Thursday, December 7, 2023

Guest Column: Even A Small Garden Can Have One Tree

The autumn this year has been one of the nicest autumns for many a year. The colour of the leaves has been fantastic and the lack of heavy rains and winds has meant that the drop has been very slow and the carpet of fallen leaves underneath the trees has been dry, crisp and colourful.

Trees are an extremely important part of our eco system. From the beginning of human life, trees have furnished us with two of life’s essentials – food and oxygen. As we evolved, their benefits increased, such as the provision of shelter, medicine, and tools.

Today, with our modern-day lifestyle and as our numbers increase, their importance is even greater.  Trees increase our quality of life by bringing natural elements and wildlife habitats into urban settings; they soften our harsh man-made surroundings and create a peaceful, aesthetically pleasing environment. Trees provide us with oxygen and improve the air quality: “One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people” (U.S. Department of Agriculture). Trees enrich our climate by moderating the effects of the sun, rain and wind; they absorb and filter the sun’s energy, keeping things cool in summer, whilst preserving warmth in winter by acting as a screen from harsh wind and a microclimate for frost free pockets. They help conserve water and preserve soil by absorbing and storing rainwater which reduces runoff and sediment deposit after storms. They filter air by removing dust and absorbing other pollutants like carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, which then rain washes into the ground. Thus, it‘s obvious that trees are essential for our and the earth’s health and survival.

Whilst not all of us have enormous gardens to be able to plant a mini forest, there are very few households which could not have at least one tree. From having a beautiful specimen tree in our garden, to having an acer or a mini fruit tree in a container, we can all enjoy the beauty and benefits of owning at least one tree or shrub. I have dozens of trees and shrubs in my medium sized garden – from a beautiful specimen evergreen (pic 1), to a very unusual and striking Paulownia tree (pic 2); from a number of fruit trees to fruit shrubs in pots.

What they all have in common is the pleasure they give me. I have fresh organic fruit for at least 6 months of the year. The changing colour, from the bright new shoots to the orange autumn colours of the leaves surrounds me with beauty for months on end (pic 3 & 4); some of the winter flowering trees and shrubs look beautiful even in the snow (pic 5). I have a number of birds nesting in the trees and myriads of insects enjoy their habitat. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting under one of the trees in all weathers with a cup of coffee and watching the wildlife. I would strongly urge everyone to go and buy a tree or shrub for Christmas; they are best planted in winter because this is when the tree roots are dormant and most able to cope with being moved. That would be a present to yourself, the environment and everyone else who sees it which would give pleasure for many years to come.

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