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Trees in the Wychwoods

beechtree2005The Wychwoods are blessed with having some very significant trees growing in full view of anyone passing by. So, in occasional issues of this publication, I feel it would be interesting to highlight some of them. The first one I have chosen is possibly the most viewed of all – the beech tree on Shipton’s village green.

There have been at least three different trees on this spot over the last century. The second was a chestnut which, having died, was replaced by our present beech in 1974. This tree was a sapling that Dr Gordon Scott had planted in 1966 in the old Milton Vicarage garden (as described by Janet Wallace in the Wychwood in 2006). He had grown the sapling from seed from a beech tree in the old Shipton Vicarage garden; that original tree was more than 300 years old when it was felled. The sapling was planted by Mrs Kitty Wiggins and marked her retirement from running the Post Office in Shipton for 43 years and the 100-year anniversary of the loss of the Cospatrick. Elaine, from Ivy’s Florist shop, recalls how she helped plant it. Then, during the hot summer of 1975 and the even hotter and drier summer of 1976, her family ran a hosepipe across Church Street to keep the young tree watered.

The Beech (fagus sylvatica) is associated with femininity, and is often considered the Queen of British trees, whereas the Oak is the King. But in this gender-neutral society towards which we are moving, there is nothing about this tree to suggest it is more feminine than masculine. Whatever gender, it is a lovely tree. It stands just over 50 ft high, has a spread of roughly 50 ft, now almost covering the two memorials beside the road path. Its girth is six foot six inches. This lovely example of the beech has nearly doubled in stature in the 27 years I have known it. I look forward to watching its glorious leaf colours changing throughout the seasons of the year, hopeful that I live long enough to see it in its full maturity.

Hamish Harvey

December 2017 – January 2018