Swinley Park discovered

Just one of the enormous ancient oaks….

…in the ancient, mediaeval park. The stability of this old tree is greatly helped by that great adventitious root in its cavernous hollow trunk. It has a huge girth, previously measured at over 7m – making it one of Europe’s top trees.

More roots coming down inside this ancient beech tree but these are very different ……..

….from a cuckoo or air tree – a birch that has grown from seed which landed in the crown of this beech and started to grow down through its decaying centre, greedily taking advantage of all the fabulous nutrients and moisture released from the decaying wood.

An ancient lime from the historic avenue collapsed but the tree is still alive as phoenix-like it rises again from suckers from its remnant trunk.

This Scots pine was originally cut during World War II to source tree resin, but someone has recut them recently possibly to keep the evidence of this historic practice alive.

Ancient birches

Birch

“Beneath you birch with silver bark

And boughs so pendulous and fair”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Ancient birch trees have the most wonderful body language in old age. Their trunks and lower horizontal limbs are no longer just round, but become deeply fissured and even rope-like.

The development of such discrete columns of living wood, called functional units, is a strategy for survival. They can be regarded as separate trees, each of which can transport carbohydrates from photosynthesis from the crown down the tree and water and nutrients up from the roots. In some uncommon situations a functional unit can stand alone or break free from the original tree – allowing at least part of the tree to carry on living independently.