How many professions can boast that at the end of every day there are more questions than answers. Immensely frustrating it may be – but stimulating also.
Trees and the soil they live in are so immensely complex that in many regards the gloves are off in how we ‘guess’ at what is going on. Any scientist would be putting their careers on the line in suggesting that there is some intelligence going on. But surely we cannot keep ignoring that something special, something very special is going on that we just can’t yet explain.
This Sessile Oak growing on the banks of the Dart River Ria, near Stoke Gabriel, has grown a foot below its basal area to support itself. The basal area and roots are a metre higher. A tree shouldn’t be able to do this, right?
This ancient Hornbeam has self-coppiced, (something I have seen in other tree species including Alder and Sweet Chestnut), allowing itself a longevity we can only envy at.
This ancient Beech has seemingly created a circle of offspring, which help protect it at an altitude of over 1300m. Its roots push back against the slope, unlike Oaks and Pines which anchor behind themselves against soil creep and Prunus species which fold their roots beneath them so they can ‘step’ down the slope.
The above are enigmas which appeal to me and I have many more – as will the majority of other tree professionals. We don’t know just how clever trees are, we accept that our forebears knew as much if not more than us and we are now restrained through the routes of ‘proper’ science – which we fully accept, but it is gutting to see it increasingly influenced by pesticide companies and egos. But the many strains of the profession, particularly the mycologists, are in absolute awe of our charge.
Is it any wonder that those who work with trees end up in a position where we have to struggle against the label of ‘treehugger’ so often used as an insult, whilst increasingly the mystery of our charge cannot help but make us think not twice, thrice but daily.