No hugging required… but maybe a cider to two for the well ringed amongst us and some apple juice for the saplings…
With some fresh thoughts and a reminder of the global need for these beautiful, life giving organisms, it’s probably worth re-looking and reconsidering our connection with trees. Just in-case helping us breath and mopping up our Co2 is not enough!
Hopefully we all had many a tree climbing adventure growing up, probably included a few fallings out also… I remember a swollen ankle or two and various scratched limbs, happily paraded as testament to my tree climbing prowess… or lack of perhaps. If you were really lucky you may have found that perfect gnarled but inviting example in which to build the best tree-house ever! Or maybe you climbed to the highest thickest branch to attach your fraying piece of straggly rope and the tree gracefully embraced you in many hours’ worth of carefree swinging. Whatever our memories, our love of trees continues with high rope courses, ‘hotel’ style treehouses, picnics in the shade of a wonderful old tree and glorious tree celebrations!
With only around 13% of the UK being covered in trees, with a lot of the density in Scotland and Wales, planting a tree remains a brilliant way to give back and ensure many climbable trees for future generations. All felling must be reported to the Forestry Commission so they can keep a log… of tree cutting, but unfortunately the paperwork reporting this can easily get held up or lost amongst the bureaucracy of new build sites and chains of command. Ancient woodland now only accounts for 2% of trees covering the UK, many sites unfortunately lost to much needed housing or much needed new roads.
There are so many easy and fun ways to learn more about trees and get more involved in nurturing their growth and preservation from street parties, to ancient rituals, it loving them in literature and tree planting.
Plant your own tree!
There are many ways families can get involved with tree planting, and for the regular adventurers amongst us, we know it helps offset our carbon footprint as well as potentially providing something our children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces can watch grow, their own little piece of living natural history.
Via a tree planting organisation:
For the time and space limited, there are great organisations that for a price or donations, will plant a tree on your behalf. These include:
Many of these will also provide you with a tree and the ground to plant it in yourselves if you want to be part of the full process.
Do it yourself:
If you have a garden, why not plant a tree with your children and watch it grow and change every day of the year. There are so many different trees that grow at different speeds and to different heights, you may end up choosing to plant more than one beautiful specimen.
Or maybe a local farmer or the local council will let you plant a tree on their ground. They may like to be involved with the type of tree and some council’s may even provide a tree for you.
Remember to do some research into which trees to plant where, or take a look around and see what is already nearby. There are over 30 different types of native UK tree species. Check out more about which trees on the Woodland Trust website: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk
Our Pet Tree – looking after a tree
After we have all sat back and admired our tree planting handiwork, we need to remember that a young tree particularly, needs a good start in life and may need some tlc throughout the early years. This could be protection from animals in the form of a treeguard, watering if there is a drought, or pulling off any ivy that would otherwise grow up the tree and slowly strangle it. For more information on how to look after a tree go here: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees/advice/caring/
Tree Festivals / Traditions Around the world
Have you ever been involved in any tree traditions? Not only are they a great way to spend time reconnecting with nature, but they are usually also a fun social event, reminding us to be thankful for the world and people around us. Examples of tree traditions include:
- Wassailing: 6th / 17th January. Tree blessing and merrymaking, usually involving a bonfire, cider or apple juice, songs and Morris dancers. All over the UK. As a personal recommendation, a great night can be had a Middle Farm Wassailing event in Sussex: http://calendarcustoms.com/articles/hunters-moon-wassail/
- Arbour Day: Usually Springtime. Individuals and groups are encouraged to plant trees. First documented Arbor Day was in Mondonedo in Spain in 1594. It is now celebrated around the world. Find dates and festivities in different countries here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbor_Day
- Street Tree Celebrations: Anytime of year in the UK. Set up by the Woodland Trust, for communities to celebrate their street trees. The Woodland Trust provides free kits and you can learn about the Street Tree Celebrations of previous years here: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/get-involved/street-trees-apply/
- New Year Trees: Originally celebrated in Russia, Turkey and China. See different examples of decorated trees including, clock, tinsel and balloon trees: https://www.countryliving.com/entertaining/g5079/new-year-tree/
- Trees in Buddhism: The Bo or Bodhi Tree, also known as the Tree of Life also appears in many other religions. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_of_life Respectfulness, Peace, Connection, Meditation.
- Of course – Christmas Trees! Developed in medieval Livonia (Estonia and Latvia) and early modern Germany. An entirely decorated small tree was only known in Britain since around 250 years ago and as we know it is now a worldwide expectation of Christmas festivities. https://www.whychristmas.com/customs/trees.shtml
Want to know more about Tree Celebrations and activities? We came across this helpful looking book: “Tree Celebrations! Planting and Celebrating Trees with ceremonies, stories and activities” Ilan Shamin ISBN-10: 1930175108
Trees Make Books – Trees in Books!
For those rainy days indoors or lazy sunny days outside amongst the… trees… or up in a treehouse.., read about magnificent trees. Below just a starter list of trees in books!
- The Magic Faraway Tree
- The Whomping Willow in Harry Potter
- My Side of the Mountain: Sam’s Hemlock Homestead
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: The Tree of Heaven
- Through the Looking – Glass: The Tumtum Tree
- Pippi Longstocking: The Lemonade Tree
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Groot
- The Bible
- The Giving Tree
- The Selfish Giant
- To Kill A Mockingbird
Trees in Songs?
Family Challenge: See how many songs you can list that are about, or contain references to trees!
Probably the best thing us adventurers can all do is plant at least one tree and definitely get involved in local and international tree celebrating festivities!