Guest Author - Nicola Jane Soen
Every one knows that Oak is England’s tree. Hard as rock and durable it is the heart of England herself. However there are other native plants and trees that are just as magnificent.
Beech for example, is a tree that is often found in woodland forest. It is spectacularly beautiful and its size is awesome. Boles of 30 feet have actually been measured. It produces a nut a bit like a triangle. This was feed to pigs. The wood is strong. The Beech does not start to flower until it is about middleaged at forty years old.
Elm trees once graced many a park and woodland, but with the introduction of foreign imports, disease destroyed this once beautiful tree, that spread its leafy boughs for a girth of 20 feet. The height of this once glorious tree was over 110 feet tall. Sadly there are hardly any English Elms left. The disease has been rampant.
England’s Heart Tree, The Common Oak, is splendid. He lives up to one thousand years old. The looks of the tree differ and it is said that each tree expresses its own personality in height and growth; though not necessarily tall growing, this tree can be huge around its bole (middle or girth of the tree.) It is the tree that Charles II hid in from the roundheads during the English civil war. This tree can still be seen incidentally, it still lives. Ships, furniture, all things are made from its wood. Its history has weaved its way though England as deep as its many roots, back into ancient times, where it was sacred. It is our most beloved tree.
The Horse Chestnut is not native to England and was introduced here in the 17th century. It does not live long for a tree. The Sweet Chestnut is another import, from Spain, possibly. The Romans enjoyed its fruit. It is one of the last to come into flower and its wood is hard and lasts well, and is sometimes used as a replica of oak in wood making. This tree can live to a great age.
The Crack Willow is a tree that loves damp, moist ground. It grows large, with its graceful bowing branches often seen trailing into water, or on the ground. Its bark has deep cracks along its side, in the bark which gives it its common nickname of ‘Crack’ It has also been known as ‘Withy’ and fans of J. R. R. Tolkien will have read about an old powerful willow tree with a bitter dark heart, who took the hobbits captive in his cracks in the forest. Most willows thankfully are peaceful and well behaved and there have not been any cases of violence or squeezing of hobbits or people in my lifetime!
These are just a few of our native trees, that are beautiful, what ever the season. With their spreading boughs and leafy shade; people, animals and birds find life and peace in their shade; and all nature are fed by their bounty.
Thankyou to LadyBird for their informative book about Trees, which was a fantastic resource.