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:
Let’s finish off with a haiku celebrating these elderly, magnificent trees.
Venerable trees - trunk and bark wrangled by time tell ancient stories.