Keys on trees and autumn leaves.

Okay, so today is National Poetry Day (in the UK!), something I found out because I follow both Natural England and The Woodland Trust on my twitter account. The Woodland Trust challenged followers to give their best 140 character ode to trees and woods…

*Early warning*  – my poetry is shocking!  When I say it like that, it sounds like it is something I do regularly.  It isn’t.  Because I’m pretty rubbish at it.  Or am I rubbish at it because I don’t practice enough?  Either way, poetry is not my sharpest writing tool!

But here is my tweet. Not quite 140 characters because of those pesky retweets counting the recipient handles in the character count.  Tisk!  Anyway, my (very mini) ode to trees:

Missing the colours of coppery beeches,

Hazel tree nuts, fuzzy like peaches,

The last conkers safe in the uppermost reaches.

Not particularly impressive I know!  So here is something far, far better, from the wonderful Felix Dennis.  This is taken from the website in his name and you can find it here.


Some rave of sycamores as if they crept
Upon the countryside, hearts full of vice;
Yet long before this frozen land was swept,
All trees were interlopers to the ice.

A noble sycamore stands even-keeled
And graces many a place with dome and bough;
If she should cast her keys too far afield
What of it, England boasts no wildwood now.

Men manage every inch of these lost lands,
And we have room for beauty; nay, have need;
Leave then this mottled wonder where she stands,
And wreak your prejudice upon her seed.
Not everyone is a fan of sycamore trees.  They are a pretty unruly bunch by the usual more polite British arboreal standard. They spread their keys freely and seed really easily compared to their more genteel neighbours like the oak and beech trees.  But I think they are beautiful, and their keys are so perfect in their papery, veined cases.  And the late, great Felix Dennis clearly thought so too, which is enough for me!
For me, there is something so magical about the autumn bounty of nuts and fruit on deciduous trees, and the seasonal treat of witnessing their kaleidoscope of colours, as the leaves turn and fade.  I miss it immensely in the perma-green of tropical South-East Asia.  One of those things you don’t appreciate until you don’t have it on your doorstep any more.
Before his death earlier this year, Felix Dennis was not only a poet of brilliance and sublime talent, but also a passionate supporter of Britain’s woodland heritage.  It says on the Felix Dennis website:
Felix began planting trees in the late 1990s, and has since cemented his passion for British forestry by setting up The Heart of England Forest Limited charity, dedicated to planting a substantial native broadleaf forest in Warwickshire. Felix often makes a personal donation to the charity and between his personal country estate and The Heart of England Forest, over 1,874 acres of woodland have now been planted. Planting proceeds at the rate of approximately 300 acres per year. In the summer of 2013, the Forest hit a major mile-stone which was the 1 millionth tree. By the end of the planting season in March 2014, another 100,000 were planted.
A true gift to the Warwickshire countryside, which will see the survival of a tiny piece of ancient woodland, newly swaddled with a blanket of fresh young native tree saplings. A wonderfully generous gesture from a man who clearly loved words and wood in equal measure. Happy National Poetry Day!

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