Yet more ancient trees

But after this I’ll stop. I promise.

Ancient trees aren’t simply defined. That cherry tree I showed you last week, was impossibly, possibly uniquely old at four hundred years. A yew can soldier on for several thousand years. Oaks can march on for a thousand years, though six to eight hundred is more usual. Sweet chestnut? Seven hundred. Lime trees? Three to four hundred. Beech trees? Maybe three hundred – longer if coppiced. Here’s the life-cycle of a tree condensed into two images.

The parkland at Studley Royal is rich in ancient examples of all of them. It’s been a protected space and a deer park for centuries. and as such, it has its own historical curiosities. You can find trees with small square holes in the trunk. It used to be believed that as the trunks of trees gradually become hollowed out, it made sense to fish out the resultant debris, and suitable holes were cut. The practice has long been discredited, and now the holes are scarring over and gradually closing up.

Further proof that trees know what’s what, and we don’t necessarily. See this lime tree and its massive bough? If you could walk round it, you’d see that this branch is cuboid in shape. Any builder will tell you that this shape is far better at load bearing than a cylindrical one. Did the earliest builders learn this important lesson from lime trees?

And some trees can actually ‘walk’ albeit slowly, as part of the root may die off, and stronger root systems further away may haul the whole trunk a small distance. It does take rather a long time though.

Here’s a small gallery of the trees we met on our walk last week:

A mighty oak tree’s last gasp.

Let’s finish off with a haiku celebrating these elderly, magnificent trees.

Venerable trees -
trunk and bark wrangled by time
tell ancient stories.

A multi-tasking post, with elements for Bren’s Mid-Week Monochrome #113, Becky’s Walking Squares, and Rebecca’s November Poetry Challenge

Author: margaret21

I'm retired and living in North Yorkshire, where I walk as often as I can, write, volunteer, and travel as often as I can.

52 thoughts on “Yet more ancient trees”

  1. Fabulous tribute to arboreal kind, Margaret. It’s reminded me of something I tend to go on about, how those of us who have lived through the 20th and into the 21st century have not seen/so can have no sense of the tall and venerable trees that used to populate our landscape.

    This thought was spurred by a 19th century ‘olde’ Shropshire photo of absolutely huge oaks felled, and all for their bark for tannin processing. So I’m thinking too of the great oaks and their ilk that in earlier centuries also were turned into ships or charcoal for lead smelting and the early blast furnaces.

    Our notions of ‘typical’ English ‘unspoiled’ landscape has been shaped by more recent plantings of the parklands of the landed gentry. Lovely of course, but what about the lost woodlands of tall, tall trees.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re absolutely right. Back in the day though, trees at least were a necessary part of everyday life. What I can’t forgive is wanton destruction in modern development . How many ancient woodlands have already been felled for the probably abandoned HS2 project? Oh, silly me, I forgot. They’ve pledged to plant a few saplings instead. Let’s hope that at least those parkland trees have a chance of becoming ancient one day.

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  2. Share as many trees as you want for me. I often think about how humans limit trees’ lives to ‘useful’ years so apples are rarely allowed to grow out their natural lifespan. What a massive difference there must be between being in a modern orchard of all one variety, sprayed and being in a traditional orchard from a tree’s perspective.

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    1. I agree. We have a great walled garden and orchard nearby, now managed as a training and sheltered employment facility for those with learning disabilities. It has a wonderful old orchard with many old varieties of apple that you never or rarely see these days. The different tastes of course are one advantage, but these elderly trees are so characterful too, and look good for quite a number of years yet.

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  3. Oh, please don’t stop! Just an occasional revisit will do. They are so magnificent aren’t they. I do a bit of urban guerrilla gardening and any saplings that happen to take root in my garden are grown on and then planted out in a suitable and safe location. I planted an oak earlier this week and have many sycamores in my nurseries. I have a further oak in a plant pot that is about 8 years old now. I’m saving that one for somewhere special!

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  4. These fantastics old trees with the detail of their bark enhanced by the monochrome and that magnificent lime must be quite a daunting spectacle in real life. Beautiful. In the shade of such a specimen as the lime we humans individually are mostly insignificant and yet collectively we are wreaking havoc across the planet.

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  5. “Venerable trees –
    trunk and bark wrangled by time
    tell ancient stories.”

    A great post (as always) and a wonderful follow-up discussion. Have you ever thought of creating a poetry collection? Your poetry and photography made an exceptional duet.

    Liked by 1 person

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