Dear Readers, this year’s UK tree of the year is the Waverley Yew, which grows over and around the ruins of the first Cistercian monastery founded in the country over 900 years ago. The monastery was dismantled after the Reformation of 1536, and it appears that this tree was just a seed then, as its age is estimated at no more than 480 years. The roots appear to ripple like lava before plunging back down into the ground, while above the many limbs reach out from the trunk like arms. It really is a stunning tree, elegant and poised.
The Waverley Yew will now go forward to represent the UK in the European Tree of the Year 2023.
The trees are selected from a range of ancient and veteran trees by experts from the Woodland Trust, and are chosen to highlight the vulnerability of trees, few of which have any formal protection in spite of their age, value for wildlife or position as venerable elders in the community. Here are a few more of the shortlisted trees:
The Escley Oak is one of the largest and oldest oaks on the Ancient Tree Inventory, and is thought to be at least 400-500 years old. It stands beside a public footpath in Michaelchurch Escley, Herefordshire.
The Holly on the Hill is a most unusual broad rounded crown, which implies that it might have been harvested for its foliage and berries for many years, maybe to decorate nearby churches and houses. It could be up to 300 years old, but experts believe it probably dates to the mid-nineteenth century.
As you know, I have a great fondness for lime trees, and 12 of them were planted along the path leading to St James’s Church in Chipping Campden to represent the twelve apostles. The original avenue was probably planted in the 1770s, but five of the trees have died and been replaced. The one in the photo is the oldest of the original trees.
And finally, I rather like this battered tree, which looks as if it has been in the wars but has survived, nonetheless. Just look at the size of it! It has a girth of 7.81 metres, and the central trunk is hollow at the top. Langley Park House, which overlooks the Montrose Basin between Dundee and Aberdeen, was built in the 18th Century, and it’s thought that the tree possibly predates it.
So, let’s see how ‘our’ tree does in the European competition next year. At a time when trees are being cut down willy nilly to appease insurance companies and homeowners, to clear plots for development and roads and just because they’re seen as ‘messy’, anything that highlights their importance, and gets people involved and thinking about them, can only be a good thing.
That top yew tree is a beauty. I love seeing roots surrounding a trees base like that, it makes me think of buried things – like treasures, not bodies so much 🤭
Absolutely! It’s a beautiful tree…
How very interesting to see the photographs of these venerable trees.
One of my favourite trees is the Marylebone Elm:
I love it too! Thanks Gibson Square…
Good final points about appeasing insurance companies and homeowners … so relevant right now in
London and many other towns and cities.