Fun with Trees

See, you never know how the day is going to go…  As Chairman of the Parish Council and local Tree Warden too, when I was faced with a parishioners complaint about a gorgeous but ponderously large Weeping Willow, I sought advice from the county Tree Officer.  We met under the fronds of the Willow, which is already the subject of a TPO (tree preservation order) and discussed they ways we might address the concerns of the resident while protecting the best interests of the tree – which in fairness could use another pollarding.

Pollarding is a process whereby the upper limbs of a tree are removed, either to control the size of the tree or for obtaining wood for fuel.  Compare this with coppicing where the limbs are cut at the base, creating vigorous growth due to the disproportionately large root ball. Pollarding generally extends the life of the tree as it remains smaller and lighter, and less liable to wind damage.  The Willow in question was last pollarded in 2005, and will now be done again once the paperwork has gone through (you can’t even prune a TPO’d tree, without the permission of the county council).

After we’d sorted out the Willow, I suggested we look at an old Oak I had discovered on farmland nearby – old and hollowed, and at some time set alight on the inside…

I wasn’t aware, but you can’t simply slap a TPO onto any tree, no matter how ‘valuable’  it’s deemed to be, unless it’s under threat. This one isn’t, although development is not so very far away… The Tree Officer was very taken with my find, which is an English Oak and not merely Ancient but Veteran, and had been pollarded for wood over centuries.  What things this tree had witnessed, and will witness yet… And then he was taken with the Ancient Oak a hundred yards away, and the one at the end of the field… lol

We started talking about how these trees should be ‘known about’ by parish and county councils, so that they might be protected should development come to their locale.  That then is the first new project – to identify by GPS the precise location of each major tree and file this along with a photgraph of the tree, building up a database of our local stock.  But wait, there are so many great trees here… we should make people aware too.  And there’s project number two. In the spring, I will be organising a Tree Walk around the village, along with a few experts, to show people what they already see but seldom actually notice.  And I expect we’ll end up at a pub.  So if you’re in the area around next May Day… 🙂

3 responses to “Fun with Trees”

  1. I particularly like the idea of the GPSing of ancient and interesting trees… that is a very valuable exercise.

    As for pollarding the willow, some trees (in particularly willow) seem to thrive better off it. The place I work has a 7 acre willow bed on short and long rotation cycles; short rotation for fencing and weaving and a long rotation for the biomass boiler we have. It’s nice that you didn’t have to remove the willow however… our local council has a nasty habit of removing old trees at their will…



  2. Great post Bish, but isn’t this already being done via the ancient tree hunt? see


  3. Yes indeed, Chris. The two databases are I think linked in some way but, beauracracy being what it is, it seems the ATH isn’t searched by the planners when developers move in.

    However, searching the ATH site there are very few trees listed around here – and we have lots. I will ensure when I list a tree with South Glos I also enter it into the ATH register.

    This is something I’ve intended for many years, but you know how time gets filled. As that time goes on, however, I see how little of it is left for some of these wonderful folk.

    What’s it like where you live?


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