Celebrating Trees for National Tree Week

crow in tree, winter, black and white photo

Celebrating Trees for National Tree Week is about taking time to appreciate and wonder at trees. They are the longest-lived plants on this earth.

When did you last take time to stop, and gaze and wonder at the beauty of autumn leaves?

At the delicate tracery of bare branches?

Have you rested your back against the trunk of a tree, closed your eyes and listened to the breeze rustling its leaves; to the birds singing in the branches above you?

Celebrating Trees for National Tree Week allows me to share some interesting facts, quotes and lovely photos with you. Enjoy.



Celebrating Trees for National Tree Week – Autumn

autumn trees, noon

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” Albert Camus

acer, pink leaved - winkworth arboretum

Deciduous trees, those that drop their leaves, fill our world with a blaze of colour in autumn. But being a diva isn’t all that they’re up to. For us humans and mammals that hibernate autumn is about harvest. We gather together the fruits of the trees to keep us alive over the cold, inhospitable winter months.

ancient oak, quercus rubra, growing in Hampton court palace grounds, RHS hampton court flower show


All those acorns that the squirrels have buried lie underground. And of those oak tree seeds – for that is what acorns are – some will be forgotten by the squirrels. These will put out roots into the soil, and a green stem to break through the earth. And in time become great oak trees themselves.



Celebrating Trees for National Tree Week – Winter

“So the shortest day came, and the year died…
To drive the dark away
They lighted candles in the winter trees”
Susan Cooper

fraser fir christmas tree and decorations

Certainly, lighting up trees to encourage the daylight to return is an old pagan ritual. But perhaps some of the lights had a more prosaic use. If there were trees lining well-used paths and roadways it would seem easier to set lights in those than to make complicated lamp-posts…

lamp post, winter trees

Winter is the season when dark days are lit by snow reflecting what little light there is. Beautiful as it looks on trees, heavy snowfall can break branches. Be sure to brush snow off your specimen trees (after taking an arty photo, of course!)

snow covered deciduous trees in garden, winter



Celebrating Trees for National Tree Week – Spring

ornamental cherry blossom, spring, deciduous tree

“The significance of the cherry blossom tree in Japanese culture goes back hundreds of years. In their country, the cherry blossom represents the fragility and the beauty of life. It’s a reminder that life is almost overwhelmingly beautiful but that it is also tragically short.” Homaro Cantu

Flowering plants, including trees, are known botanically as Angiosperms. This describes the fact that their seeds are encased, surrounded an ovule. Think of that sweet cherry, that the spring blossom will turn into. A seed surrounded by an ovule.

valley view, dovecote, rhododendron, cothele, cornwall, marie shallcross

Angiosperms which are trees are known as hardwoods, or broadleaved trees. They are usually deciduous, but some, such as Rhododendron, are evergreen.

Of course, for our flowering cherry to develop fruit, or seeds, it needs to be pollinated by bees. Pollinating insects are vital to the food supply of humans and other animals. So be wary of using chemicals that harm them.



Celebrating Trees for National Tree Week – Summer

trees reflected in water, wakehurst place

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” Warren Buffett

The documentary evidence for the earliest designed gardens that we know of comes from the warm Mediterranean and Asian countries. Is it any wonder then, that trees for summer shade played such an important role in these formal gardens?

Whilst shady trees offer a meeting place in parks and a cool sitting place in gardens its not as simple as you may think. Did you know that shade from street trees is critical in keeping down the temperatures in the concrete and stone cities that most of us live in? Seriously reduce temperatures, by up to 10 degrees in some cases.

blind veterans uk garden, Show gardens, rhs hampton court flower show 2017


Trees in our summer gardens may also be carrying immature fruit. The June drop where surplus apples fall from the tree may have been what hit Isaac Newton on the head. It would have been amusing if it had been a Newton wonder apple that hit him. But that cultivar dates from 1870. It’s a very good dual-purpose apple by the way.



Celebrating Trees for National Tree Week – Conifers

“Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible.” Euell Gibbons


Now I bet you never thought about eating your Christmas tree, did you? Well, it may not be the tastiest thing you’ve eaten, but some pine trees are edible, nutritious and pleasant to eat. If you’re going to forage food from pine trees (or anywhere) be very sure that what you are eating is not poisonous!

Having said that, I’m nibbling pine nuts while I write this blog. And I only foraged as far as the local supermarket…

There are about 20 species of pine that produce nuts that we humans find tasty. If you have enough space its another tree to add to your orchard, nuttery or edible landscape. The Mediterranean Stone pine, Pinus pinea would be a very decorative addition. We’ve been eating these pine nuts for 6000 years. Pesto anyone?

Conifers are the sub-category of plant (taxonomic class) known as gymnosperms. Gymnosperm means ‘naked seed’; a seed which is not surrounded by an ovule, as an apple seed is, for example.Conifers are also referred to as softwoods. They are usually evergreen, but not all them are. Deciduous conifers include: –

  • Ginkgo biloba, maidenhair tree;
  • Larch – Larix decidua is the European Larch;
  • Metasequoia glyptostroboides, dawn redwood;
  • Taxodium distichum, bald cypress

Did you know that the tallest living organism in the world is the Californian Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens? Or that you’ll never see a monkey on a monkey puzzle tree? The monkey puzzle tree, Araucaria acaucana supposedly got its name as it would be a puzzle to any monkey that tried to climb it…

monkey puzzle tree, araucaria araucana, peheun tree, chile, evergreen conifer, chile pine



Celebrating Trees for National Tree Week – Urban Trees and Cityscapes; Suburban Trees

“Suburbia is where the developers bulldoze out the trees, then name the streets after them.” Bill Vaughan

street tree and church spire, urban trees, cityscapes, coventry

We’ve already touched on the cooling effect trees have on the urban jungle. Did you know that they also reduce the effects of flooding and water run-off? Urban trees help to keep our air clean too. Not only do they breathe the carbon dioxide that we and the vehicles exhale, but they absorb other air borne pollutants too.

birch trees, excel centre, london, urban trees

Wind turbulence is another factor where trees are useful. All those tall buildings can create wind tunnels, and the street trees, whether in full foliage or with bare branches, filter the wind and slow it down.

london plane tree, peace pagoda, battersea, urban trees, cityscapes, platanus x acerifolia, river thames, spring, open-topped bus

And of course, trees add a decorative visual counterpoint to the artificial jungle of buildings and cityscapes.



Celebrating Trees for National Tree Week – Orchards

orchard, acorn bank, cumbria, heritage apples, fruit trees, national trust

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” Martin Luther

And a pear tree, cherry tree, peach tree, a quince tree. Plus, a lemon tree and an orange tree in large pots so I could take them into the greenhouse overwinter. Maybe a fig tree, with its roots restricted so it fruits rather than shoots. Ooh maybe a pomegranate tree too.

quince tree in blossom, Cydonia oblongata, fruit tree, grow your own

Garden orchards, kitchen gardens, edible gardens, gardens full to bursting with fruit trees. Is it any wonder that so many religions and cultures over the centuries have considered the tree of life to be a fruit tree?

As you may know, ornamental edible gardens are a particular passion of mine. This includes both an orchard or edible garden which is decorative. And gardens where edibles and ornamentals are massed together creating a luscious mix of fruit and flowers. How to have the best of both worlds, you might say.

purple hazel, corylus avellana purpurea, nut tree, new leaf, spring, ornamental edible garden, grow your own, edible gardens, kitchen garden, garden orchard

Oh, and I’d have a nuttery as well as an orchard. Nuts are often the poor relations and that’s such a shame. Sweet almond trees have some of the prettiest spring blossom and you get the nuts too. And a few coppiced hazel trees would provide a harvest of fresh cobnuts in their frilly cases.



Celebrating Trees for National Tree Week – Designing with Trees and Planting Trees


pouring soil and compost into hole, tree planting, bare root plants

“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” Chinese proverb

Talking of orchards, nutteries and ornamental edible gardens leads on to designing with trees.

There are blogs in Plews Potting Shed to give you inspiration for topiary trees, ornamental trees for small gardens and suggestions for fruit trees. Including trees into a garden design is fundamental in my view. Even small courtyard gardens have room for a tree in a pot; as do many balconies. Bonsai trees may need to be used in the smallest of spaces, but it’s still a tree!

olive tree in large pot, old brick wall

Planting trees should be carried out with care and much preparation. The tree may well live longer than you, so give it a good start. I’ve written elsewhere about how to plant bare-root trees and many of the stages are the same for containerised trees. Designing with trees is a topic which will be re-visited.



Celebrating Trees for National Tree Week

kangaroo apple tree, fruit, berries, solanum aviculare, solasodine, steroids, australia, new zealand

“My absolute favourite piece of information is the fact that young sloths are so inept that they frequently grab their own arms and legs instead of tree limbs, and fall out of trees.” Douglas Adams

“Swimming in a pool surrounded by trees.
Dark redwoods, transparent pale-leaved birches.
In their delicate network, a sliver of the moon.”
Czeslaw Milosz

National Tree Week UK began in 1975 and is an annual celebration of our trees at the end of November / beginning December. It is timed for this point in the year as this coincides with the beginning of the bare root tree season. In 2017 National Tree Week UK runs from November 25th – December 3rd.


Related Gardening articles you may enjoy from our Award Winning Blog

Fruit Trees for Small Gardens
Bare Root Fruit Trees
Quince Trees and Quince Cheese
City Gardens
What is Garden Design?

Plews Potting Shed blogs –Tree and Shrub Category

london plane tree, hms belfast, winter, bare branches, urban trees, cityscapes, platanus x acerifolia

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