Still Learning To See

Such a joy is a tree


One of the great joys of my life are trees. In part I love them because they often live beyond the life span of a single human being and, thus, we must care for them or plant them not just for ourselves but for the generations on either side of ourselves.That simple fact puts my small life squarely in the bigger context of what is real about life.

Our recent visit to England was an opportunity to enjoy some of the fabulous, old trees that grow there.

Tree-7211The English Oaks are magnificent, many of them standing alone in fields that have grown hay for hundreds of years. Nearly every churchyard has at least one Yew Tree and in some cases those can be 2000 years old. Beech, Linden (Lime), Chestnut…the list of species that thrive there into old age is long and lovely.

In London I enjoyed this new installation of trees that are being espaliered. Obviously a bird has also already enjoyed the young tree even in that densely urban environment.


This English Oak graces the property of Blickling Hall, a spot we’ve been fortunate enough to visit and enjoy several times. Clearly I’m in heaven!



This entry was published on December 28, 2014 at 4:55 pm. It’s filed under John Snell, Photograph, Trees and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on “Such a joy is a tree

  1. Ah, love seeing you next to that magnificent oak–you know how much I share your love of trees. However, I have to say that the picture of the “espaliered” tree made me cringe–feels like the tree is being crucified! Trees are so amazing on their own–not sure why humans feel the need to “manage” them.

    • Yes, I concur AND is it really any different than what we’ve done to pet animals or agricultural animals and crops. Even people if I’m being honest, but there the damage is often much more evident. The technique was often used to lay a tree up against a south facing wall so that trees could be grown out of their normal range. I’ve seen orangeries in England that were like this, a whole hillside of south-facing walls all lined with espalier trees. But, as I said, I understand. Even pruning trees sometimes makes me realize how much I’m making decisions for this otherwise just-fine-as-it-is living thing.

  2. Chica Snell on said:

    You old tree huger you!! So good to talk to you this afternoon John! How old is that tree estimated to be? It is quite amazing. Thanks for the link on the new word, espalier! I’d never heard of doing that to trees. Love, Chica

    Sent from my iPad


  3. Not sure how old it is. Probably 100-150 years. I’ve hugged other trees in England that are documented to be older than 1500 years!! Pretty amazing.

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