Does hope grow on trees?

Infertile winged fruit, or samaras, on the ‘surprise’ tree (elms are self-sterile)

Infertile winged fruit, or samaras, on the ‘surprise’ tree (elms are self-sterile) - Credit: Groundwork South 

Trees do not generally sneak up on people and leap out shouting 'boo!' and, of course, this one was no exception, but it might as well have been for the great surprise it was about to bestow.

A quiet walk along a hedge line may of course produce many interesting discoveries, from the beauty of native wildflowers to the joy of hedgerow bird song or the flight of an elusive butterfly that won’t stay still long enough for identification.

Rarely does it produce wonders as large as this one though – a mature elm tree!

Coming face to face with an elm older than about 15 years is something not many under the age of 40-45 will have experienced.

Due to the devastating impact of Dutch Elm disease, which spread through English elms following its accidental introduction in the 1960s, we rarely see these beautiful trees gracing the Devon landscape today.

Thankfully, the elm in question seems not to have been affected and has quietly got on with the business of growing into a mature tree. 

Tree-shaped harbingers of hope are dotted across our green spaces.

Looking up at a blue sky through the branches of a tree can sometimes help put things in perspective

Looking up at a blue sky through the branches of a tree can sometimes help put things in perspective - Credit: Community Ranger, SWSICo

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You don’t have to hug a tree to feel a connection; you don’t have to be a professional arboriculturist to understand them, and you don’t have to have spiritual beliefs to share a culture infused with gestures and sayings that associate trees with power.

Simply sitting under the shade of an oak in full leaf or taking shelter from the rain under a horse chestnut can provide a simple, everyday connection with the trees around us, connections that we all too often take for granted. 

So, the next time you visit a green space watch out for trees that jump out at you - oh, and no one will think anything of it if they witness you shouting 'boo!' back at that tree... at least that’s what we’ve been told.

Groundwork South works in partnership with Torbay Council and SWSICo to support community groups caring for green spaces across the Bay. For more information, please contact Hannah Worthington on 07940510616 or email hannah.worthington@groundwork.org.uk