Here’s why you should plant a tree

My first job when I left school was at The Gardener’s House in Claremont Park, Esher, Surrey.

Friday, 12th June 2020, 2:28 pm
Ginkgo tree SUS-201206-141314001

Claremont House was built in 1774 for Clive of India and the gardens laid out by Lancelot “Capability” Brown. The gardener’s house was built within the grounds of the main house and surrounded on all sides by a ten foot high brick wall.

The main feature of the garden was a giant Maidenhair tree more commonly known as Ginkgo. Apparently this was the second largest specimen in the country and each year tree experts would come down from Kew Gardens to inspect the tree and carry out any pruning that they deemed necessary.

The strange thing about this tree was that it would shed all of its leaves within a few days. When I say leaves I mean barrow loads of them. I would spend day after day with a besom broom sweeping every leaf off the lawn, then picking them up with two wooden boards loading them into a wooden wheelbarrow.

Stephen Nightingale SUS-200804-171430001

The Ginkgo leaves dried like paper when they had fallen and unlike other leaves would not rot and compost down, which meant the only way of disposing of them was to make one giant bonfire which would carry on smouldering for days.

When I was a young lad growing up in our little village, all of the grass verges had an elm tree growing on it. Unfortunately in the 1960s Dutch elm disease fungus was accidentally imported from Canada. Despite popular belief that it first started in Holland, it was actually called Dutch Elm disease after a Dutch pathologist who carried out research into the disease in the 1920s.

After the devastation of the elm trees in 2006, Hymenoscyphus fraxineus hit the United Kingdom, better known as Ash die back. A chronic fungal disease characterised by leaf loss and crown die back in infected trees. Some of you may have noticed the amount of ash trees that have had to be felled on the walk up to the horseshoe field in Steyning and unfortunately this is happening right across the country.

Trees have played a major part in our history and are even mentioned in the Bible when King Solomon sent a message to the King of Tyre with a request for cedars of Lebanon should be cut for him to build a temple.

All our great war ships including Francis Drake’s “Golden Hinde” and Nelson’s “Victory” were all built from wood. Our props for the trenches in the First World War and the coal mines were all made from wood. Even our first steps at school learning to write with pencil and paper was down to the humble tree.

Of course one major certainty of life is that one day we will be leaving this world in a wooden box. Before this inevitable fate should be bestowed upon us, wouldn’t it be fair if we could replace just one tree that we have owed so much of our life to.

One way we can achieve this is by joining Jo Gordon from Steyning, who together with Sussex County Council has launched a charity called “Steyning for Trees”. you can contribute towards a tree to be planted in your local area. Jo can be contacted on 01903 816726.Please consider how trees have contributed towards your life, probably in constructing the roof over your head.

Before you are carried off in that wooden box please plant just one tree to give a little back of what you have enjoyed over your lifetime.

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