It’s National Tree Week and we’ve been visiting a favourite black poplar by our local chalk stream.
The black poplar is the most endangered native timber tree in the UK and mature trees (like this one) can grow to 30m and live for up to 200 years.
They grow in isolation and thrive in boggy conditions; our poplar has its roots in the brook. I’ve sat by its vast foot on many occasions writing and watching the stream, and I wanted to introduce the children to this venerable and rare tree. So we packed water bottles, waterproofs and snacks, found our boots and binoculars and set off on an arboreal adventure.
A story under the tree
We chose one of our favourite books, The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton, to read while balancing on the branches under the black poplar canopy.
As we read together, looking up past the bracket fungi and through the dense foliage, we imagined the faraway tree stretching into the clouds with Silky and Moon Face in their homes further up the trunk. Sure enough, we could barely see the top of the poplar tree over 25 metres above our heads.
At the end of the chapter, we stopped to lean against the deeply riven bark and listen to the internal sounds of the poplar, imagining the vessels inside the trunk carrying water and nutrients into the leafy heights far above. It was hard to discern much above the rushing of the stream, but my six-year-old daughter heard a song on the other side of the bark and came home with the tale of the old tree who sang to her.
Finding tree faces
If it's too cold to stay still under the trees take a walk and see what face you can find. Take pictures and when you get home, try drawing them.
Use the Woodland Trust's spotter sheet
to understand a little more about the trees around you.
The Tree Charter
November 24th is Tree Charter Day
– an opportunity to celebrate our relationship with woods and trees, and to remember their importance in human life – from food and medicine, to building materials and even the air we breathe. The Charter for Trees, Woods and People was launched last November and was signed by hundreds of thousands of people across the UK.
You can get involved by making simple changes to daily life like swapping to FSC approved paper and toilet roll. Or just get out and enjoy the trees!