Sunday, 7 March 2010

Meetings with Remarkable Trees

Once upon a time, long long ago, we bought a book called Meetings with Remarkable Trees by Thomas Packenham. We flicked through it idly, and it stayed on the coffee table a while; then it was put on the shelf, but we've always 'liked' trees'. I'm not much good at identifying them, but am more interested in their character or personality than their scientific name.
OK, I'm a tree-hugger, I admit it.
But I know enough to know that one that I saw today was - in my eyes - unusual, and fortunately I had an expert to tell me that it was a hornbeam. Not at all uncommon, except in east Kent where I live. So I took a photo of it.
I took other photos of trees in Park Wood, when trying to photograph birds flitting through the uppermost branches. That's a Lesser-Spotted Woodpecker up there - but you could see that already couldn't you?
Regular readers of this blog (hope you're both well) know that I like to tag along with people with proper cameras, telescopes, picnic hampers etc so that I can make use of them; today I encountered Dylan, the Dumpton Non-committal, who not only spotted the bird but also sent me this picture. As always he was a source of constant information, enthusiasm and good humour.
Another tree with a bird

Reaching down Pakenham's Meetings with Remarkable Trees, I found that it includes "Majesty" the huge oak tree on the Fredville estate, in East Kent. It's about 600 years old, 40' in circumference and probably about the largest in Britain. Unfortunately it's on private land, and the one I could see from the park is probably its smaller cousin, called "Stately".
The park, on clay and flints overlying chalk, must be very fertile to produce such trees - there are also fine Sweet Chestnuts, and some very tall green oaks by the gate. On closer inspection, one was an evergreen Holm Oak, but the other was a Turkey Oak - not really an evergreen but capable of keeping its leaves through the winter when "young".


Greenie said...

Steve ,
I see you in a whole new light now . I never had you down as a tree hugger . A pint hugger or a bottle hugger , yes .
Not wanting to 'up' your post , but we have several Oaks of similar age on West Wickham .
Next time you are up I'll point you in the right direction , and you can give them a hug - by yourself !

The other reader .

Dylan Wrathall said...


An excellent posting, as ever! Whilst I am happy to admit to not owning old books on even older trees, I do have a nice collection of bird (related) titles which includes "Birds one should know - Beneficial & Mischievios" by Rev. Canon Theodore Wood (published 1925) Written in superb prose, a refreshing change from the matter of fact tomes that are published today! - Really enjoyed the morning wander - Dylan

Mary said...

Three cheers for being a tree hugger :-) My dad used to try to teach me to recognize trees by their bark and shape, but I usually cheated and looked for leaves! Trees are so majestic and so necessary. I hate seeing them cut down so we can have more parking lots. Lovely bird shots as well. I keep trying to get a good Creeper photo.

Warren Baker said...

I love old trees Steve. There are very few 'proper' old trees around my patch.

Your Treecreeper photo is perfectly acceptable!

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve,
You weren't able to get near the Fredville - what a shame! Love the treecreeper though.
Ruth The Wildlife Gardener.

Kingsdowner said...

So near but......
I've fpound out the name of the owner (Plumptre, a family that's lived there for generations) so I'll write a begging letter.
Spring should be good,if they are accepting visitors - I'll let you know.