‘It was magnificent – I’d look at it in awe’: the beloved trees felled by storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin

제이enny Bennion has a wooden throne in her garden. It is a monument to the damage caused by Dudley, Eunice and Franklin, a hat-trick of storms that swept across the UK in the space of a week in February. It was the first time this had happened since the Met Office began naming storms in 2015.

The trio battered down Bennion’s beloved 30-metre-tall Scots pine, which had overlooked her semi-detached house in Hutton, Lancashire, for more than a century. It was one of the reasons Bennion chose to move there two and a half years ago. The tree is believed to have been planted in 1901, the same year the house was built, and stood four metres away from it. Life feels strange without it.

“It would have been nice if it could have stayed a bit longer," 그녀는 말한다. “I know it had to go, and all good things come to an end, but I loved it. I really did.”

As gusts swept across the UK, the O2 Arena in London had part of its roof ripped off, while a 400-year-old oak crashed into a family home in Essex, killing four people. Given this destruction, it may seem odd that the loss of a tree could have such an impact, 그러나, up and down the country, people are mourning arboreal friends.

Talking about the loss of the 100-year-old “triangle tree” in his Cornish seaside town, Kevin from Bude told BBC Radio 4: “Seems a bit crazy having that sort of feeling towards a big old lump of timber, but a few tears have been shed and a few toasts have been drunk to the demise of the tree.”

People do all kinds of seemingly mundane things under trees. For Kevin, it was eating pasties, and fish and chips cooked in dripping. For Bennion, who works for the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, it was reading her book in the dappled shade, watching nuthatches scamper down the trunk, and sitting under it when she felt stressed. Breaking off the bark would reveal lots of minibeasts; squirrels would race around the trunk; a big carrion crow used to sit in the canopy.

Trees connect us to the deep past. Some Scots pine – the only native pine in the UK – live for up to 700 연령. They were part of Scotland’s ancient Caledonian Forest, only fragments of which remain. We are increasingly aware that trees help sustain us on this planet, so a small loss of a tree speaks to a larger environmental loss, with the looming knowledge that extreme weather events that cause such destruction are likely to become more common as the climate crisis escalates. Since Arwen hit in November, more than 12m trees have been lost or affected by storms in the UK.

Hurricane Hits England, the poet Grace Nichols, who moved from Guyana to Britain in the 70s, wrote of the big storm of 1987: “It took a hurricane, to bring her closer / To the landscape,” describing trees falling “heavy as whales”, acknowledging that such extreme weather reminds us how we are connected to land and nature.

For Brian McGhie, the chair of the Epping Forest conservation volunteers, the huge beech that tumbled in Gernon Bushes nature reserve reminded him of a dead elephant. He had had a soft spot for the tree, which was believed to be about 350 살이에요, since he first saw it in 1988. It was also loved by wildlife, including mice, jays, rooks and crows, which enjoyed eating its nuts.

“You could describe it as a tragedy, because it was magnificent,”그는 말한다. “It was almost perfect, the way the branches grew out, and it was so tall. It dominated the area. Whenever I walked past it, I would stop and look at it in awe and be pleased it was there. It’s a great loss.”

He was shocked when it fell, because it looked so healthy, but its carcass revealed it was riddled with rot. The tree was also special because it was a beech in a woodland full of hornbeam and oak. It was probably created by someone planting 10 ...에 15 beech saplings together in a bundle, which then fused to make one tree. “It’s a bit of a mystery. Why did someone plant a bundle of saplings there? Was it to get rid of them, or an experiment? Who knows?” says McGhie.

In years past, beech trees were very useful. The person who planted this tree may have wanted it for firewood, to flavour hams and cheeses, or to use its leaves to stuff mattresses, which was more comfortable than using straw. Beech nuts were used as flour in bread and pastries. 요즘, they are often engraved with declarations of love, because their bark is smooth and relatively soft.

The tree will be left where it fell, becoming part of the woodland floor, and so another chapter of life will begin. Fungi and insects will make the most of its rotting imperfections. Sunlight will reach the forest floor, creating an opportunity for new plants to come up. As the beech fell, it smashed into surrounding trees, creating fissures and cracks that birds and mammals may be able to nest in, 너무.

Denise Parker, a volunteer ranger at Richmond Park, 런던 남서부, loved a 250-year-old gnarled and knotted beech on Broomfield hill, by the Kingston gate, which fell during the storms. It was one of many old trees in the park, which was formerly used as a royal hunting ground, particularly in Tudor times. The tree was a landmark for Parker, because it was at the top of a long hill, near a coffee shop. It taught her lessons about ageing.

“It continued to be beautiful even though it was old, although some people might think it was an odd shape. That’s the thing: it doesn’t have to be a certain shape to be beautiful; it doesn’t have to be tamed, trained and manicured. It was purely its natural self, doing what a beech tree does," 그녀는 말한다.

“Trees continue surviving and yet we make such a meal of it. That beech tree never tried being an oak, or sycamore, it was just being a beech tree, the best beech tree it could be. We’re always spending our lives trying to be something and are never quite satisfied.”

Compared with humans, trees live a simple life, guided by the seasons, unfurling new leaves every spring without fail. “It’s reassuring to see that repeating each year, regardless of what’s going on in the world,” says Parker.

As far as possible, trees in Richmond Park are left to rot where they fall, because dead wood is so rich for wildlife. Like McGhie, Parker will continue to visit her tree as it decays, to observe its rippling effects on the wider landscape. "지금, it’s almost a monument. I see lots of positives to take from that.”

A tree reminds us that life goes on, even when the present may seem unbearable, says Dr James Canton, a writer and lecturer at the University of Essex and the author of The Oak Papers. It is a physical, living being that operates on a different timescale from us, linking to the past and our ancestors. “Humans are creatures of movement – that’s what we do. Whereas trees are born and die on the same bit of earth,”그는 말한다. “That sure-footedness is really appealing to us – I’m sure that’s what ties us to them.”

In Richard Powers’ book The Overstory, he talks about the ways in which multiple human lives can live in parallel with the life of a single tree. “You and the tree in your back yard come from a common ancestor. A billion and a half years ago, the two of you parted ways,”그는 쓴다.

It took a storm to fell trees for many people to recognise them as beings in our landscape. Canton says: “Trees are individual living beings. That’s not some wild, hippy statement, it’s just scientific truth; that’s what they are.”

Over the weekend of Storm Eunice, the roots had started moving in Bennion’s garden. By the Monday, the ground was undulating. A tree surgeon visited and said there was nothing anchoring it to the ground. “‘I can’t save it,’ he said. ‘The only thing I can do now is try to save your house,’” recalls Bennion.

The tree surgeon strapped the pine to another tree. On the Wednesday, once the wind had subsided, he took it down. She counted the rings on the chunks of trunk and considered what historic events the tree had seen. “We were counting them and going: ‘Right, that will have been the first world war, the second world war, and then up to when my gran was born, when my mum was born, when I was born,’” she says. Bennion wants to save a cross-section and label it, marking key life events for her family on the rings of wood.

“I am really sad that it’s gone, although I’m very happy with my throne. I’m looking forward to sitting on it. It’s carved to face just where the sun goes down, so I’m going to sit and watch the sunset and remember how lovely the tree was.”

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