I spent a wet but fascinating day with a group of tree lovers from the Ancient Tree Forum at Newnham Park in Devon, yesterday. Despite the miserable weather, it was a privilege to be able to see so many veteran and ancient trees in one place. Many of the large oaks, beech and ash are several hundred years old, and in rude health, but some were showing signs of neglect and damage from recent storm events. This lapsed beech (Fagus sylvatica) pollard has had one of its major branches snap out, but the rest of the tree appears to be in good shape.

Those of you familiar with ‘The Lord of the rings’ will have recognised the ‘ Ents! ‘ of the title as the large, ancient forest trees that are able to walk, talk and fight! Its easy to imagine some of these old sylvanian ‘characters’ wandering around the park after sunset…

In addition to meeting some amazing, venerable old trees, there were almost as many venerable tree experts and enthusiasts in attendance at the event. I really enjoyed the conversations, debates and arguments about various aspects of ancient tree management, learning as much in a few hours as I might have done in a few weeks of study elsewhere.

You don't see many examples of hazel coppice as big as this

You don’t see many examples of hazel coppice as big as this

Could this be an Ent?

Could this be an Ent?