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.
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".