entry one hundred and seventy one
Hello happy tree pals,
It is with heavy heart that I, the deTerra Diarist, may be the bearer of bad news (particularly for those of you that are also particularly taken with trees). A stunning old yew tree in Ashbrittle, Somerset that contends for the title of ‘Britain’s oldest living thing’ alongside another yew tree I have previously reported on may be on its last legs.
The Ashbrittle Yew, which finds its home in a church yard at the local St John the Baptist’s church – like many other aged yew trees – has rather a large presence, measuring 38ft in circumference and with a vast canopy that shelters a number of surrounding grave stones.
For some perspective, this yew tree was already quite mature when Stonehenge was being built, pegging it at up to 4,000 years old. Unfortunately, according to its custodian, Charles Doble, it is looking “extremely sick” and he is now “worried whether the rural church or the yew will die first”.
However, not everyone is convinced the tree is about to die any time soon. Dr. Owen Johnson (an expert in trees) reckons that it could be just going through a rough patch, saying: “They go through spells where they might look as though they are not thriving, but a few years later they might look fine. They are almost immortal.”
Tim Hills, one of the founder members of the Ancient Yew Group, also agrees that yew trees go through cycles that may cause them to look worse for wear.
“Yews go through cycles when they replace their leaves every eight or nine years,” he said. “It may look as though the tree is suffering, but this yew will probably outlive the church.”
Many fingers and toes are crossed here in the deTerra office, in the hope that we may not be on the verge of losing one of the nation’s great trees. For now though, I shall leave you with this poem written in 1813 by William Wordsworth, which he wrote about the Lake District’s Lorton Yew:
“Of vast circumference and gloom profound
This solitary Tree! A living thing
Produced too slowly ever for decay;
Of form and aspect too magnificent
To be destroyed.”
Some yew trees may appear to be immortal, but it’s the hard-wearing and aesthetic qualities of sawn oak timber that makes up the majority of our fabulous oak kitchens. To see for yourself, why not order some of our kitchen samples, starting at just £5 including delivery.
Ta ta for now,
The deTerra Diarist.