Did you know that trees have their own league tables? Well sort of, let me explain:
In view of National Tree Week, and to throw a little light on my opening line what I’m talking about is something called The Tree Register. Put more simply – it’s a list of trees and their attributes, collected by volunteers to help preserve some of the nation’s most notable specimens.
Occasionally we all happen across a tree that is a bit more special than others around. Sometimes they are older, gnarled and with deeply fissured bark, or sometimes they are simply the largest for miles around!
Tree Register volunteers travel miles around Britain frequently update records. It is incredibly important work, for these trees are of great historical value, contributing much not only to the landscape but to ecology as well.
Compton Verney’s tree collection has been hit hard over the years, with many trees removed from the parkland following WWII to make way, we presume for crop growing – old aerial images show an incredible parkland wood pasture with mature oak and elm trees growing large in the fields, and we’ve heard stories of parkland tree felling and stump clearance using explosives no less!
There was a stroke of luck however. Whilst the park trees were relatively easy picking, those nearer the mansion were spared – by the complexity of the felling task maybe, but saved they were. These trees include many that are approaching 300 years old; and some, we’re glad to say have made it onto the Tree Register. Here’s a few of the highlights:
On the back lawn, just down near the lake edge is a fine specimen. At 22m, it isn’t the tallest specimen around, but its mass is something to behold, though its trunk measurement is awkward to say the least with many low branches. At 0.3m from the ground the tree measures an impressive 10.38 metres, or 3.3m diameter. It is reputedly the County Champion for its girth measurement!
Another fine specimen located this time behind the new visitor centre location. Its height is yet to be confirmed, but girth alone hits home at 3.75 metres, 1.19m diameter. It’s a beautiful tree with long pine needles, its trunk covered in plates of flaky bark in greys, silver and brown. We have braced the crown of this tree to help preserve it in high winds, so long may it last.
We have two of these on the register, both appearing in our Wellingtonia Walk – a curving conifer avenue planted in the second half of the 1800’s. The tallest tree is 42metres high, which is no mean feat at all although their American elders can reach a staggering 94metres. Down at the base, the largest measures an impressive 2.49 metres in diameter, with a girth measurement of 7.81 metres.
Now measuring trees like these is no easy task, specimens originally needing to be climbed and measured manually with a tape, although digital measuring now leads the way. Trees also tend to keep growing, some faster than others and some unfortunately have to be felled or fall naturally. This ultimately means that of all those trees that were measured a while ago – some will have slipped down the table, and some will have risen – the result: a very buoyant set of records that continues to change!
Whilst it may seem like a simple league table, it is of course very serious. Behind it is a focused group of people with trees very much in their hearts, and through their efforts some of our most special trees are singled for attention. You can learn more of the Tree Register on the link below, and should you wish to visit Compton Verney and see our specimens close up – we’d be glad to welcome you!