Trees, People and Art

2nd April 2015

The trees are coming into leaf

Conventional wisdom has it that life speeds up as we get older. It certainly seems that the months and years fly by faster, and I’m always astonished to discover, “It’s already April!”  This feeling of mild anxiety – that time is passing me by – is never more prominent during spring. At this time of year nature is inexorable; stubbornly marching to its own pace, it races on while I am left incredulous, late to the party, “Since when was the hawthorn […]
12th November 2014

Charlotte Mew on Men and Trees

  Today we are increasingly aware of the importance of urban forestry to human mental and spiritual well-being. The prose and poetry of Charlotte Mew (1869-1928)  was such thinking.   Charlotte lived, for the most part, in poverty and despair. Tormented by her brother’s and sister’s mental illness, which confined them to asylums and early death; she vowed never to marry as she feared she might carry a hereditary mental illness, and this fear and grief ultimately led to her suicide. Despite this, she produced […]
12th October 2014


There are just so many interesting facts; the internet is full of them! You probably know most of the more common facts about trees, but here are some amazing facts* about trees that you didn’t know. OK so they may be unfounded but – after all – this is the internet, so who really cares, as long they blow your mind!   7: You probably know that the root system is one of the most important parts of the tree. But did you realise a tree’s […]
9th October 2014

Disraeli & Gladstone & Arboriculture

Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone were both politicians of extraordinary ability; today they are consistently ranked in lists of Britain’s greatest Prime Ministers.  They were possibly the greatest parliamentary rivals in history: their personalities clashed and they heartily loathed each other.  The feuding politicians were celebrities of the day, with their battles in the House of Commons attracting as much public attention as the marriage of a film star today.    The ghosts of Disraeli and Gladstone loomed in the background […]
19th August 2014

In Awe of the Ordinary: How tree-porn can make you go blind.

Anyone who has both an interest in trees and an account with Facebook, Twitter or similar social media, is likely to encounter a stream of links to collections of images promising something like, “THE BEST, MOST KICK-ASS TREES IN THE WORLD!”  Seemingly a week cannot pass without clicking on a link to a similar collection of skilfully photographed images of extraordinary trees from around the world. It wouldn’t be hard to believe that nearly all of the earth’s largest and most unusual trees have been […]
15th March 2014

Dyngus Day and the Willow Tree

  Salix caprea, aka Sallow, Goat or Pussy Willow are the commonest and most widespread willows in Britain. They are the tree most likely to be encountered on abandoned industrial sites and urban wastelands. Visually the most unremarkable of trees, they rarely cause one to stand and stare (in tree survey terms, a classic contender for a lower value BS:5837 retention category ‘C’ tree).    In early spring however, they are transformed; first with the silky silver catkin buds, gradually […]
25th November 2013

Trees are the most civil society

  There is nothing so much alive, and yet so quiet, as a woodland…   Trees are the most civil society. An old oak that has been growing where he stands since before the Reformation, taller than many spires, more stately than the greater part of mountains, and yet a living thing, liable to sicknesses and death, like you and me: is not that in itself a speaking lesson in history? But acres on acres full of such patriarchs contiguously […]
20th May 2013

BS:5837 (2012) Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction – William Morris: Recommendations.

  The BS 5837: 2012 Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction – Recommendations; provides guidance in respect of trees on development sites. It aims to provide a balanced approach on deciding which trees are appropriate for retention, on the effect of trees on design considerations and on the means of protecting trees during development.   The latest revision of the document is now one year old. The new document provides Local Planning Authorities more opportunities to refuse planning […]
6th January 2013

Psithurism: the sound of wind whispering through the trees

We can’t see wind, only the things it moves. Likewise, we can’t hear wind unless it’s flowing past something that makes it vibrate; this causes it to adopt various sonic guises depending on what it interacts with. Trees provide some of the most common and admired ways for wind to make itself heard. This sound has been termed psithurism (sith-err-iz-um). The naturalist author and founding member of the RSPB, W.H. Hudson, suggests in Birds and Man (1901), that psithurism is salubrious. He describes […]
15th June 2012

Lessons In Tree Care From Ancient Egypt.

    Hatshepsut is generally regarded by historians as one of the most successful pharaohs of Egypt. She lived in the 15th century B.C. and had a long and successful reign, marked by building projects and trading expeditions unrivalled by any other culture for a thousand years.   As well as being the first great woman in recorded history, inaugurating a long peaceful era and bringing great wealth to Egypt, she can also fairly lay claim to being the world’s first arboriculturist.   […]