The search is on across Britain, and ultimately, Europe.
The Woodland Trust wants to find THAT tree. The ‘It’ Tree. A tree which has such charisma, style, age and provenance that one cannot pass it without getting a fit of the vapours.
In this age of speed, efficiency, beauty and youth, it is comforting to see that age and the time-worn are still valued in a few sectors.
I personally feel there is no contest.
No: one tree leapt to mind the very second I heard on the news about the hunt.
There is an ancient abbey once great and prosperous, founded by Bishop William Giffard on 24 November 1128, and now ruined and sentenced to life as an English Heritage picnic venue and film location. It sits on the River Wey, opposite a great old house, Waverley Abbey House, and it looks like a setting for a Jane Austen novel.
You can read about our visit there on a picnic here.
Here’s the thing: at what would have been the entrance to the old abbey is a gnarled old yew, multi-limbed, nightmarish in a Harry Potter kind of way, perfect for tree climbing, wide and ancient.
It serves as a source of delight for kids visiting the abbey and affords hours of peace to their parents. A child can disappear into that yew for some considerable time.
It is so huge, and yews take such a very long time to grow, that one can only speculate that it was planted by the monks at the door of the church, with all the symbolism that might entail.
This tree: it has charisma. It exudes presence. It has provenance and keeps the best company.
This, to me, is the ‘It’ Tree.
See what you think.