One of Devon’s oldest trees, the Meavy Oak near Yelverton and a Plymouth Pear tree near Derriford Hospital, one of the rarest trees in the UK, have both been shortlisted by the Woodland Trust in its Tree of the Year contest to crown England’s favourite tree.
Now in its fourth year, tens of thousands of people have already taken part in the conservation charity’s competition which celebrates the UK’s finest trees. This year for the first time one tree will be chosen from each of the four national winners to represent the UK in the 2018 European Tree of the Year contest. Expert panels have shortlisted 10 trees in England and six in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for voters to choose from.
Supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, the shortlisted trees are also in with a chance of winning a £1,000 care award. The award can be used to arrange a health check from an arboriculturist, provide interpretation or educational materials or hold a celebratory event in honour of the tree.
t is believed Meavy’s ancient oak has stood on the village green outside the Royal Oak Inn for almost 1,000 years. According to records the tree was said to be old in the days of Queen Elizabeth I and is thought to have been standing tall in the reign of King John in 1200AD.
Keith Scrivener from Burrator Parish Council said: “Meavy’s ancient and venerable oak tree has been standing on the village green at the centre of local life for countless generations. From its position between St Peter’s Church and the old Royal Oak Inn it has for centuries witnessed people passing to and fro – for their christenings, their school days, their marriages and their funerals.
“It has also been the centre of much merry-making for the annual Oak Fair and village entertainments. A splendid place to sit and watch the world go by – perhaps with a beer in your hand.”
The Derriford Plymouth Pear tree, now on land owned by Aviva Investors and managed by Wharfside Properties is one of only a few Plymouth Pear trees which still exist in just a handful of places near Plymouth and Truro. The trees could be native to Britain and date back to before the English Channel appeared or more recent immigrants whose seeds were brought here by birds. The species is also present in Brittany and North West Spain and Portugal.
David Curry who chairs Plymouth Tree Partnership which nominated the tree said: “This tree has survived against the odds as much bigger trees have been felled nearby to make way for new roads and buildings.
“It’s easily overlooked for most of the year but absolutely stunning when covered with its pure white flowers in spring. It appears to have been planted as a seedling by someone who knew about the Plymouth Pear and its fascinating history.”
Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust chief executive said: “Once again the public has nominated many fantastic trees with truly inspirational stories, which highlight how intrinsic they can become in peoples’ lives. It’s a reminder of why we need to care for individual trees and that they still need true protection in law from development or mismanagement.”
Clara Govier, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery added: “We are delighted that with our players’ support, the Woodland Trust is able to provide this opportunity for communities all over Britain to celebrate and care for their fantastic trees.”