Sunday, January 17, 2010

Three portraits of an oak: 1907, 1997 and 2008

(For many months now I have had this posted on another blog that is now defunct. Since I have encountered many tree fans in the blogosphere, this oak has been upgraded to 'standard fruit tree' status, albeit a larger, older and (dare I say it?!) more impressive fruit tree than any I have yet seen.)

1997- I am 12 in this photo.

I always admired this huge oak tree, standing alone in a meadow near Bourton-on-the-Water. It had a huge trunk and thick branches that reached right up into the sky. I passed it daily on the way to school, photographed it and drew from the pictures for an art project.

The tree had clearly lost may of its great arms over the years, and back in 1997 the most recent of these losses was still piled in the corner of the field. In December 2008 I was in communication with the photographer Archie Miles about the oak and he pointed me in the direction of this old tree book, The Trees of Great Britain and Ireland (7 volumes 1906-1913), that had a mention of a great oak near Boughton-on-the-Water. I tracked down the reference, and amazingly there it was as photographed in 1907.

A magnificent specimen in 1907, in the prime of middle age (at 250 years old?).

'...remarkable on account of the perfect condition of all its branches...'

The oak in 2008. A little weather beaten, but nothing to stop another 200 years of nobility and awe. The farmers said it was once pollarded, but that must have been quite early on in its life.

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