Thursday 7 December 2017

Big tree, little tree, cardboard box

Can we pun it? Yes we can! And that, you will be relieved to hear, is the limit of my knowledge as regards Bob the Builder.

The Woodland Trust organise a competition every year to find Scotland's favourite tree. For 2017, the honour of the country's most loved woody plant has been bestowed upon a two hundred year old Sycamore in Albert Street in Kirkwall.

I happened to be in town this morning, as work was cancelled due to Storm Caroline, and took a few photos of the 'Big Tree', as it is affectionately known locally. Admittedly, a dreich day in December is never going to offer opportunities to capture the most picturesque view of anything, let alone a deciduous tree in an urban street.

As can be seen in the latter image, there's a large metal support keeping the tree upright, but the branches do still fill with leaves in the Spring, so the old Sycamore is certainly putting up a fight.

If you're wondering 'why the heck did they plant that there?', well, as it happens, they didn't.

Here's an old postcard from 1890, by Tom Kent, which I found on the BBC Scotland website, showing the tree inside a walled garden. Apparently, there were once three trees, but two were felled during the widening of the street, before a public outcry saved the third, our Big Tree.

Copyright Tom Kent
The next few images were taken by Sandy Windwick in the 1980s, and are now held in the Orkney Image Library. Up until 1988, the Big Tree still had its original 'head of hair', but it was pollarded soon after, as Sandy's 1989 image shows.

Copyright Sandy Windwick
Copyright Sandy Windwick
I made the 'hair' remark, as the shop just by the tree is Hazel's Hair Stylist, presumably not named with any dendrological accuracy!

As mentioned previously, due to storm force winds, I opted for discretion over valour today. In fact the only ladder I climbed all day was this one, as I used the time festively to decorate a somewhat smaller tree.

And the cardboard box? Well, I had ordered some stuff from south last month, which hasn't yet appeared on our doorstep. Enquiries with the retailer revealed that the box had taken an inadvertent detour to Shetland, but was now back in Aberdeen, awaiting the next cargo vessel to Orkney. Again, however, due to Storm Caroline, we won't be seeing the parcel before the middle of next week. Oh, fix it!


Spadger said...

You could always invite Amey to maintain the tree appropriately!

Imperfect and Tense said...

Y'see, I can't tell how tongue-in-cheek you're being there. Are they the undisputed world leaders in sensitive habitat management that we would wish them to be? Or do they have an unfortunate habit of setting their pollarding level 1.8m lower than it should be?