A fine old English oak

With the Tree of the Year awards still in mind, I asked a friend to tell me if there were any large, old trees in her locality.

“Of course, but I have a lovely 200-year-old English Oak in my garden.”

“What? You do?”

“It’s older than my house. It’s an old farmer’s field boundary tree.”

And so we trooped outside, pushed through an area of smaller trees and found this.

It wasn’t easy to take a photograph. In the end I had to stand underneath, which isn’t a good idea in hot weather because oaks have a habit of suddenly dropping branches.

I realised I had seen the tree before, but hadn’t paid attention. That’s the mystery of trees for you. They’re some of the largest living organisms on Earth but all too easy to ignore as street furniture.

My friend looked at the ivy wrapped around the tree. “I must get that removed,” she said.

“Tree of the Year winners get tree care,” I said.

“Oh I’d rather not have my garden listed on the internet.”

“Ok,” I said, remembering that in the competition rules it says that if a tree is on private land the landowner’s permission must be sought before the tree can be nominated.

I wonder how many people have remnants of agricultural tree planting in their gardens? I once lived somewhere that had a row of very tall trees planted for their timber but never harvested. They were certainly much older than the house.

Do you have an old agricultural tree where you live or on the boundary of a farmer’s field nearby? If the landowner agrees, you could nominate it for Tree of the Year.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve met trees planted in the 19th century for ornamental, scientific and agricultural purposes.

The London Plane I blogged about a few days ago is in a public recreation ground that used to be the garden of a large house. It was probably planted for its looks.

In Bodnant Garden the tall trees I met were collected as specimens by Victorian botanists who wanted to see the world’s trees in one place.

Somewhere back in the past, a farmer allowed the English oak to grow to mark the boundary of a field.

Just like buildings, trees are a part of the story of how humans have shaped the British Isles.

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