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                      Seasonal Cycle of the Tree - December

As the old song goes; 'I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as a tree'. Each morning, I look out of my window to check on the weather and how my old 'friend' the neighbouring Horse Chestnut tree is faring. Throughout the year I see it both at its majestic best in its glorious summer garments and also when it stands naked and forlorn as it does at this wintery time of the year.

This then is the start of an epic seasonal journey. Why not visit this page each month with me as I mark the many transformations of this arboreal beauty.



The new year begins and our tree is still in its dormant stage with not a leaf or bud in sight. So sleep tight old friend and gather your strength as you will have lots of work to do in the coming months.



And though February-Fill-Dyke dawns quite brightly, our tree shows no sign of awakening from its winter slumber. Yet down in the roots something stirs. The sap begins to rise and who knows, perhaps next month there will be signs of life. I and all your followers await the coming with bated breath.



A bit of blue is bursting through yet no sign of buds appearing yet. However we are confident that the 'snooze button' has been hit and that come 'All Fools Day' we will see definate signs of life! (Or will that be just another April Fool Joke?)



At last there are signs of life with the emerging buds of April on our special tree. She is now flexing her arboreal muscle and I can almost guarantee that come the month of May those barely visible buds will be transformed into vibrant green leaves and those still unadorned branches will have all but vanished from sight under a leafy canopy.


We told you so! Hardly any wood to be seen on this glorious May Day as the now vibrant green leaves cover every limb, branch and twig of our special tree. All we have to do now is wait for the appearance of the 'candles' - What candles you may ask? - Ah well, you will have to wait and see what changes June brings to our tree!


What an glorious sight! Who with a soul could not be inspired by our wonderful tree in its full leafy majesty, conker candles and all, sharing the garden with a neighbouring laburnum. However, a small confession. This photo was taken in mid-May as by June the impessive candles would have all but faded away in readiness to change into every schoolboy's delight - the 'conker'. Am I forgiven? I do hope so.


Our tree is now in it's full Summer plumage although now the matured leaves have taken on a more subdued hue compared to her bright Spring attire. This does not however detract from her arboreal splender. She now stands tall and confident in her haute couture outfit, courtesy of Mother Nature and continues to attract admiring glances from all who pass her by.



It's a bit grim up North for the first day of August but as you can see our tree is still putting on a magnificent display of her deepening green foliage. As yet there are no signs of the spiky green containers that encase what most schoolboys are awaiting impatiently for - the 'conker'. Still, it's early days yet and no doubt later this month they will be in evidence. If not, we will have to name our tree 'William'. Why William you ask? Well it will be 'William The Conkerless' - get it! Oh please yourselves.



What is happening to our beautiful Horse Chestnut tree? That vibrant green foliage is now much faded with many of the leaves showing unsightly brown spots and it is not the early onset of autumn that is the culprit. I understand that this spotting is caused by a disease with an almost unpronouncable Latin name but more widely known as Bleeding Canker. It suddenly appeared in this country in the early 2000s and has spread rapidly. It disfigures the foliage and eventually attacks and kills the bark of infected trees. Let's hope that the scientists find a cure for this devastating disease before the game of conkers is relegated to the history books.

Our special tree is also not sporting its usual glut of the spiky green cases that protect those shiny brown fruits so beloved by boys of all ages. In fact I only spotted the one. I have called it 'Tony' and perhaps you are wondering why? Well it was of course 'tony' one I could find (You have to come from the North to understand this one).


It's time to replace that green mantle for the brown and yet our tree is reluctant to change as she clings on doggedly to her Summer leaves. Is this in compensation for the lack of 'cheggies' as 'Tony' has less than a handful of spiky companions to keep him company? I guess that Bleeding Canker is the cause of this deficit and so this year it looks like we will have to give a miss to our game of 'conkers' - Maybe next year will be better.



Well Ophelia blew and Brian blustered then Mother Nature came along to finish the job - well almost. Our tree is now almost devoid of foliage thanks to the actions of this unstoppable  trio. And so we complete our seasonal voyage. We have seen our tree in bud, clothed in all its summer majesty and naked as winter takes its toll. But it's hard to deny that whatever each season brings, our tree stands tall, proud and majestic and whether it be a 'loner' at the bottom of the garden or part of a copse, woodland, forest or jungle they should all be treated with respect and reverence. Not only are they beautiful to behold but they also, like most plant life, act as 'lungs' for our oft' mistreated planet, taking in carbon dioxide and breathing out life-giving oxygen for all our benefits.

See below as to how you can play your part in the preservation of our trees.


The above article is about one tree but we at the BBB believe that all of us have a duty of care to our native trees and woodlands and actively support their preservation through membership of both the 'Woodland Trust' and the 'Charter For Trees'.

 For more information just log onto

We are so committed to this most worthy cause that our resident 'Bard' was charged to write an article on his experience with these 'Monarchs of the Woods'. This he duly did and submitted his effort to the 'Charter For Trees' organization. They duly published it and if you would like to read it then here it is:-

                 Tree – mendous Fun in Penny Woods
     It was just after the war when our little gang of intrepid boy explorers found our way for the first time into ‘Penny Woods’. This little woodland is nestled below the 14thcentury church of St Mary’s in Penwortham on the outskirts of Preston in Lancashire.
     The wood itself could be graded into two parts, one part at ground level with a well-trodden path used mainly by dog walkers and the like. However, it was the section that flanked the precipitous slope that led up to the church and adjacent graveyard that attracted us budding young woodsmen.
     It was known as Castle Hill as before the church was built it had been the site of an ancient fortification with commanding views over the nearby River Ribble. On balmy sunny days during the school holidays, we boys pretended to be Vikings storming the fort and the air was often filled with our ferocious cries as we put the imaginary defenders to the sword and pillaged.
     It was during one of these boyish skirmishes that we came across probably the most impressive tree on the hill; a giant English oak that had surely been created for boys to climb. There were boughs and branches set in the old gnarled trunk that made it relatively easy to scale and within minutes the tree was alive with excited youngsters, vying with each other to see who could climb the highest – It was then that the discovery was made.
     John had chosen a slightly different route than his peers and had reached a branch that stuck out at roughly 90 degrees to the trunk and overlooked probably the steepest part of the hill. It was there that he discovered a rope attached to the branch and coiled a dozen or so times around it. After announcing his find he began to unwind it and on the last turn found that the end was attached to a roughly hewn branch of wood about eighteen inches long.
     “It’s a tree swing,” announced Tim from the superiority of his full 12 years. “See, you straddle the branch, walk back up the hill a few yards, run down and then launch yourself into the air, watch I’ll show you.” By this time, John had now joined his pals on the ground and reminded them that as he was the one who had found the swing then it was only fair that he should be allowed first go. This logic could not be faulted and so John followed to the letter the instructions as uttered by Tim and with a whoosh he became airborne – It was then that tragedy struck! 
     How long the rope swing had been coiled around the tree was anybody’s guess. Oh, the rope was still in good condition being preserved by a tarry coating and probably originating from the nearby Preston Docks. However, the makeshift wooden perch was a different matter. It turned out to be rotten and as John reached the zenith of his swing there was a horrible ‘crack’ as the seat broke in two and launched poor John into space.
     The assembled boys looked on in horror as John flew through the air in a perfect arc, arms and legs flailing in a vain attempt to halt the inevitable landing, which three long seconds later he did – right in the middle of a thick briar patch at the foot of the hill. We all hurried down the slope, fearing the worst, only to be met by a rather shaken young boy emerging from the bushes, his face hands and legs bearing the many scratches inflicted by the blackberry thorns but, apart from his wounded pride, otherwise unscathed.
“Well! Who’s next?” he enquired with a sheepish grin.
     The makeshift seat was replaced with a sturdier bough and for the rest of the day Penny Wood was filled with the whoops and shouts of delight as each boy took his turn to launch himself into space. Thankfully there were no further mishaps and for the duration of the seemingly endless school holidays the gang returned each day and never seemed to tire of the simple joys brought about by the combination of a tar stained rope, an improvised seat but most importantly of all – that glorious English oak tree.
     It was only later in my life when I reflected on those long gone halcyon days that I realized how bountiful a tree could be. As well as providing a play station for a band of adventurous youths, it was also home to a family of squirrels, numerous birds, offered shade to the weary and stirred the imagination of poets and storywriters. It was a sad day when I learned that the terrible storms of October 1987 had uprooted this monarch of the wood and I believe that is why we should treasure these magnificent gifts of mother nature and each play our part to ensure that future generations are able to take delight in their continuing existence – not least of all some ragged but fearless boys wishing to discover the delights of swinging loftily through a leafy canopy.



We are reasonably confident that after reading this little woodland escapade, you also may feel as we do that our trees and woodlands, that are under a growing threat, are worth fighting for andmay even feel inclined to join one or the other of the organizations shown below and do your bit - We sincerely hope so!




Received a very encouraging letter from our local MP, Nigel Evans, which is published below. It's good to know that there is at least one MP who is as passionate at saving our woodlands as we are.

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