There was a tree of the year competition (sorry, #treeoftheyear)? I missed that one. Was it on Saturday night TV? (Actually, that would probably have made a half decent program. Better than Springwatch, certainly). Anyway, this reminds me that a couple of years ago I started to compile my ‘Top 10 Trees of Epping Forest’. What the original purpose of this was, I don’t now remember. I can’t quite imagine how I would have managed to convince anyone that it was work related. I’ve dug out the photos from my inept computer filing system (pathway: pictures > pictures > Spike > pictures > 2012 > trees) and it looks like I only got to 5. So to continue this months theme of being positive (yay nature), getting excited about things (this hurts my face) and only writing shiny, happy posts, here they are (next month, if winter ever starts, I will return to being a dedicated miserabilist):
5 – (In fact, imagine this soundtracked by the Thunderbirds countdown to lend it the necessary gravitas)
Grimston’s Oak – Big oak in a clearing in Bury Wood. I haven’t noted whether it is English or Sessile. Found at a junction of 3 paths. I can’t find any details about who Grimston was and don’t remember any anecdotes from my time at the Forest (and they do love an anecdote!). Those with a more sinister bent of mind might like to imagine that those horizontal branches on the right hand side once served an ominous purpose. Not me though. And if you did, you’re clearly wrong-headed and should be sectioned forthwith.
(That’s it’s official name amongst those in the know, in case you were wondering. Honest it is) I don’t think the photo really does the scale of this tree justice. Worth bearing in mind that the bole is at head height, though. It’s a lapsed pollard, of which there are many in Epping Forest, so there’s a danger the limbs will snap. Pollarding is…you know what, I’ve given that talk so many times I can’t be bothered to type it out here. If you don’t already know, go read a book or something (sorry, that was unnecessarily rude. Here’s a link). I have also definitely not tried to climb this tree. Never. How dare you even suggest such a thing!
Ok, what’s left of the Fairmead Oak, anyway. Such an awesome tree (and so artistically shot in black and white by myself (I had just worked out how to use that function)), you might have noticed that it is the background image for this very blog. It is Phoenixing quite wonderfully and you can probably just make out the regrowth coming from the snap point. Who knows, might even survive.
Huge diameter, about 20-30 feet maybe? It’s been coppiced then pollarded. Pretty Cool. Just look at the base of that thing. If you were a child (or of a childish frame of mind), it makes an excellent hide-and-seek apparatus. I, of course, being a grown adult man have done no such thing. Don’t be foolish! And I certainly wasn’t on my own when I didn’t do it.
I think this was actually Epping Forest‘s official entry for the ‘competition’, but it’s not the best, oh no (and that is FACT, not merely my subjective aesthetic opinion). The best tree is…drumroll… . . .
My, the tension was palpable there, wasn’t it? This English Oak is awesome, gnarled and just all-round pretty damn cool. Obviously this rather arty photo was taken by somebody with a little more camera-type skills than my point and click efforts (in fact, if you look closely you will see me in the shot, leaning thoughtfully against the trunk, like some kind of enigmatic troubled soul). It is found just off the road at Honey Lane Quarter past High Beach, and as far as I am aware it does not currently have a name. Although now it does, because right this second I have named it Spike’s Oak. And who says I can’t?
Veteran trees are undoubtedly cool, and anyone who says otherwise is a fool (and I like to make up a tree-based rhyme pretty much all of the time). Seriously, this ‘Tree of the Year’ thing is all I ever hear about from the ‘kids’ when I hang out on the ‘street’. And why the heck not? This is the point where I remark that at least they have more personality than your standard X-factor contestant etc and so forth. But I wouldn’t do that. Trees are made of wood, they don’t have a personality. They are awesome though. Except for Sycamores, they’re a bit crap.