The Stories of Trees
Trees have long been entwined with storytelling. Not only do they provide the perfect backrest when reading a good book, their history and mythology has also inspired works of fiction for thousands of years. In her book, Gossip from the Forest, Sara Maitland suggests that the mysterious secrets and silences, gifts and perils of the forests were both the background and the source of fairytales; Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, The Seven Dwarves.
Trees are also seen to be sacred, with healing powers. In The Sacred Tree (a small but beautiful book that focuses on 13 native trees of the British Isles and their corresponding 13 moons and place on the wheel of the year's cycle), Glennie Kindred suggests ways to communicate with tree spirits, as well as exploring the spiritual and healing qualities each tree has to teach us. The book is full of wonderful line drawings and includes how to grow and plant trees, too.
The Woodland Trust seeks to continue this deserved reverence, and is currently urging tree lovers to stump up nominations to become the next Tree of the Year. The Brimmon Oak in Wales narrowly missed out on being crowned the 2017 European Tree of the Year and the Woodland Trust is hoping to go one step better next time around. People are asked to nominate a tree ‘with a story’; this could be a link to a historical figure or event, a tree at the heart of a community or one which is just well loved. Winning trees will benefit from a tree care award of up to £1,000 thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. This can be used for arboricultural surveys or other maintenance, interpretation or even to support a community event in celebration of the tree.
Inspired by the celebration of trees, we'll be featuring our own stories in the journal over the next few months. First up is Mugdha from Kindred + Wild, as she takes on the elder in next week's post. I'd love to hear from you if you've got a tree story to tell. It could be a specific tree, or a whole species. It could be associated with literature and tales of your childhood, or maybe you just pass it each morning on your way to work? Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you'd like to nominate a tree for Tree of the Year, you have until the end of July to take part, and can find out more here.