The Secret Wood
The following trees carry clues.
Can you guess which famous tree the clues refer to?
Student Designers: Tess Gimson & Scarlett Parsler
Riddles by Rachel Robinson
The Fir Tree
I celebrate in the big apple each year
Rockefeller Centre Christmas Tree, New York.
The Horse Chestnut
I’ve been watched from an attic in the darkest of times.
I fell down in a storm but my children live on.
The Chestnut Tree Anne Frank looked at from her attic.
I am resting, leave me be, let me sleep!
An honourable thief has stood by my side, and long before that, many Romans would ride.
The Sycamore Gap tree along Hadrian’s wall in Northumberland, which was famously featured in “Robin Hood Prince of Thieves”.
We were planted with grace to welcome and watch.
We’re over 200 years old and live over a sea.
We’ve been on TV and have royal connections.
We stand as friends and form two lines.
County Antrim: famous row of beeches called “Dark Hedges”, featured in “Game of Thrones.
Section One Voices
Birds & Butterflies
Birds and butterflies have always found their homes in trees.
Explore which ones visit ours.
Student Designers: Isla Scott & Izzy Wearden
Its cones offer inviting seeds to those who can get at them. Finches and woodpeckers have beaks which enable them to access these with ease. Doves are more likely to forage for fallen seeds.
The pine moth’s larvae are left to hibernate and then continue to grow on the pine tree. Their greyish brown colour blends in with the tree bark. Although the pine trees of the U.S.A. provide a habitat for the pine butterfly, there are no species in the British Isles which do likewise. The woodland does however create an environment where butterflies can obtain nectar from the resident flora.
Although the needles of the yew are highly toxic to humans and other mammals, they are eaten by the caterpillars of the satin beauty moth. Despite the name, these moths are difficult to identify, possessing no strong feature or colour.
The red berries are food for the goldcrest and firecrest who build their nests in its branches. These fruits are an attractive foodstuff for other bird species too.
The crevices and holes in the bark are cosy nests for pied wagtails and marsh tits. The woodpecker often kindly leaves its nest holes to be used again.
This tree does have a resident butterfly, the purple hair streaked whose caterpillars consume the flowers and buds.
The flowers of the horse chestnut are a lovely cascade of pink and white, attracting insects and especially bees to partake of their nectar.
The caterpillar of the triangle moth and the leaf miner moth feed on its leaves. The triangle moth is aptly named and thus easy to distinguish. The leaf miner moth’s small size and narrow striped wings make this moth equally easy to spot.
The tree provides nesting for several bird species including the owl, redstart, woodpecker and nuthatch, and its seeds are food for bullfinches.
The compost which builds up underneath the tree encourages the growth of flowers which in turn attract butterflies, in particular the brown fritillary. However ,as these are rare, it would be good fortune indeed to see one. Many moths are attracted to the bark which nourishes the larvae.
Section Two Voices
Fun facts and craft activities can be found in a journey through these trees!
Student Designers: Catriona Baxter & Anna Deakin
The Big Forest Giants!
They are the tallest tree species in the world. They are native to U.S.A. but were introduced into the U. K. in the 1850s. There is a large plantation in Bedfordshire and the Eden Project in Cornwall has begun a conservation programme.
Can you find out what height the tallest redwood reached?
The tree is known by another name in the U.S.A. … what is it?
Not only is the redwood very tall, but it is also very wide. Fallen redwoods have had tunnels built in them wide enough to drive a car through! A very creative person hollowed out a stage and seats in a fallen redwood, carpeted it, installed a piano and held a concert for 40 people.
How wide is the redwood base? What would you create out of a fallen redwood …. draw and label your design.
The Mists of Time
These trees are so strong they are able to withstand severe climate events and even fire. It is unsurprising that they can live over 3000 years. The tallest tree at present is known as the Hyperion and it stands taller than Big Ben!
What name would you give to a giant redwood? Design a nameplate for your tree.
The Beech tree has leaves which are lime green and hairy when young but mature to a dark green. It has two kinds of flowers, tasselled and cupped. The fruit are known as beechnuts and are found in pairs in spiky cases. The beech is tall and long lived and supports much wildlife.
The Cherry… spring beauty
Although it is called the cherry, the berries of the wild tree are food for the birds. In the spring it adds beauty to many a park and street as its lovely blossom emerges, and reminds everyone of the change of season. Henry VIII introduced the tree to this country.
With some, glue, pink tissue, paper or material …. make your own cherry blossom.
The Oak… from small acorns…
The oak has become the symbol of the British countryside. It is the second most common tree in the British Isles and shelters and feeds much of our wildlife. Its wood has been used for many purposes.
What has oak been commonly used for?
Look at a street map of your town and make a list of ten places/ roads that have tree names.
Section Three Voices
Ancient Greeks and Romans told many stories about nature.
Hear their tales in these trees!
Student Designers: Imo Robinson Vilain & Maddie Sims
In ancient Greek myth, Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world, carved the names of her suitors in the bark of a beech. Its smooth bark is perfect for carving.
The Greek hero Jason of the Argonauts built the ship, Argo, out of beech wood.
In the Iliad, Apollo and Athena watch the war between the Trojans and the Greeks, while disguised as vultures, and sitting on a beech tree.
Hawthorn was sacred to the Greek Goddess Maia (Roman Flora). For this reason boughs were long used for luck and protection in Greek and Roman households
The Oak Tree
Hamadryads were Nymphs whose life force was bound up with that of a tree, usually an oak. At their birth, a plant sprang up fully grown from the earth and when they died it withered away. Byblis was a Miletian princess who fell in love with her brother. When he rejected her, she fled in shame, and threw herself off a mountainside. The Nymphs pitied her and transformed Byblis into an oak tree. Her tears became a spring which rose from the tree’s roots.
Pitys was a nymph who was in charge of looking after pine trees. Boreas, god of the north wind, loved her, but she was in love with the flute player Pan. Boreas grew jealous and he threw Pitys against a rocky ledge. She was turned into a pine tree. The resin droplets on the wounded branches of a pine tree are said to be teardrops shed by Pitys when she thinks of that day.
The Plane Tree
The oriental plane tree is a large tree with a large crown and short trunk. It is native to southern Europe and south-west Asia. It is the tree under which it was said that the Greek doctor Hippocrates taught medicine at Kos. The Roman writer Pliny notes many different medicinal uses from the tree’s leaves and bark, including treating burns, bites and frostbite. In Greek mythology, when Helen of Troy’s husband, Menelaus, died, she sought sanctuary with the queen of Rhodes. However, the queen was angry at the death of her husband in the Trojan War, so she got her handmaidens to dress up as the avenging spirits, the Furies, and they hanged Helen from a plane tree. After that point, Helen was then worshipped as Helen of the Tree.
Section 4 voices
A wintry wood looks magical, and has particular visitors.
Which creatures will you find in our winter trees?
Student Designers: Drew Milne & Binamra Shrestha
The owl, woodpecker and nuthatch are happy to build their nests in holes in the ash tree. Bats can also be found roosting here. The privet hawk moth caterpillar consumes its leaves and the bullfinch the seeds
A symbol of the winter season, the red berries of the holly feed many species of bird , which also build nests in the foliage. Deer also feed off its leaves and berries. The mistle thrush is said to guard the holly berries to prevent other birds eating them.
The fallen foliage from the holly provides the hedgehog and toad with a warm haven from the cold. The caterpillars of the dainty, beautiful holly blue butterfly grow fat on holly leaves!
The oak can be host to 250 species of insect and unfortunately for them they also provide food for other wildlife. The acorns produced by the tree also nourish Magpies, Crows and jays. The acorn has of course been inextricably linked to the squirrel, who bury them to eat at a later date.
Many species of birds nest in the thuja because of the protection offered by its foliage. Finches are particularly partial to its seeds. As with many trees, fissures in the bark are safe havens for insects during the winter months. Deer also feed on seeds and foliage but can cause a lot of damage.
Section Five Voices
Ever walked through a forest by moonlight?
Find some eerie stories in these trees.
Student Designers: Logan Cameron & Adam Diesel
Sweet Gum Tree
The indigenous Aboriginal people of Australia regarded the gum tree as symbolic of the moment when the concept of death was born in humanity. The resin shed by the trees are the tears of mourning for this loss of innocence.
The Egyptians believed the sycamore created a pathway to the afterlife … the goddess Hathor was known as the lady of the Sycamore. The indigenous North American tribes considered the sycamore as a vessel for evil spirits and avoided it. As settlers arrived, unaware of the sinister aspect of ‘the Ghosts of the Forest, stories began to circulate about the dire consequences of disturbing the sycamore. A sceptic swung his axe at a sycamore, it catapulted off the tree hitting his leg and killing him by blood loss.
In the past, in Scotland the sycamore was the preferred tree to use for execution by hanging as its branches were considered strong enough not to break.
In the district of Wakegori in Japan, there lived an elderly samurai who had outlived his children and all of his other loved ones. His only comfort was the ancient cherry tree in his garden. He had played under this tree as a child, and it had been in his family for generations. One summer, the tree died. When the sumarai died on 16th January, his ghost was said to have entered the tree and made it bloom, and every year since, it is said to bloom again on January 16th.
The birch has always been associated with the spirits of the dead and with those that mourn, for, in sympathy with the sorrowing, ‘weeps the birch of silver bark with long dishevell’d hair’.
Trees and How They Grow by G Clarke Nuttall, 1913.
In The Wife of Usher’s Well, an old ballad in Scott’s Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, a mother grieves for the loss of her three sons whom she had sent “o’er the sea”. Superstition decreed that the dead should not be mourned for more than a year and a day, or else their restless spirits might return to haunt the living; but the continued to mourn, and in winter the ghosts of her sons appeared, wearing hats of birch to protect them from the physical world which they had left behind.
Section Six Voices