Well, yes, okay, I have been seeing another tree. I see a lot of trees 🙂
For about a year now. I met her just across the road from the farm. She was just standing there, stark naked beside the road when I first arrived here…..
… and the moment I saw her something clicked (it may have been my camera)
We didn’t need leaves.
She had the most beautiful skin and I felt like I had known her all of my life.
I have been trying to find a good time to tell you, it just never seemed like the right time. So I decided to wait for the fruit.
Well the fruit is here now.
I know that you are going to say, “Col, she is not right for you.”
Yes, I get it but let me explain.
I don’t like Sweet Chestnut coppice because it is a non-native monoculture with no benefit to wildlife and a thick toxic leaf litter that inhibits all other growth.
This is a Sweet Chestnut coppice the summer after it has been cut.
I know quite a lot about Sweet Chestnut coppice, I used to own one.
The picture above was taken on the 21st of August and that is a coppice in it’s first year of regrowth. On the same day I took this next picture of another coppice but this one is in it’s second year.
It is the same story, nothing grows here except Sweet Chestnut. The tree has a natural defence. It has toxins in the leaves which leech into the soil and inhibit other plant growth. It is the arboreal equivalent of Rhododendron.
This next picture is a Willow and Alder coppice just down the road and again taken on the same day and this is what freshly cut coppice should look like.
All coppice woodland is not the same. You need native trees to make it work.
All of that is history, let’s not dwell on the negative.
No tree has much wildlife value when it is young, not even an Oak and coppicing keeps trees in a state of eternal youth. To reach it’s full potential a tree has got to mature.
As it grows the smooth bark begins to crack and peel and it starts to provide homes for insects and food for birds. It produces fruits and flowers and parts of it die providing dead wood habitat for insects.
Even so, no Sweet Chestnut is ever going to be a great wildlife tree, not in the UK but as she stands here surrounded by Oak and Birch, Ash and Beech she is contributing. She is producing flowers and fruit that wouldn’t otherwise be here and she is adding to the biodiversity of the area and not detracting from it.
I do like this one. 🙂
This is where I first saw her, it has become like our “special place” and it is where we always come for our clandestine little rendezvous. It is our spot.
Isn’t she wonderful?
She flowers in July.
The pictures that I am going to show you of the flowers are all male flowers. The tree does also produce female flowers. I actually wrote this post yesterday and deleted it when I got to this point and realised that I somehow didn’t have pictures of the female flowers. You are just going to have to trust me, I can’t wait until next July to get this off my chest, I have already waited too long 🙂
(Male buds, sorry 🙂 )
Then we get to the good bit.
Everyone knows roasted chestnuts. They must be one of the most delicious fruits to come off a tree (Sorry I was forgetting Apples)
This is the reason that we need to have relationships with this tree and to welcome it into our broad leaf forests to live amongst all of the other trees.
The fruits today are still a bit small but there are plenty more still on the tree and it won’t be long now and I will be roasting them over my little camp stove.
Free food and very good food. Thank you tree 🙂