Oak Killer

Despite banging on about how much I love oaks, I plan to kill one.
The Priory oaks add real structure, permanence and sheer weight to the beauty of the estate.  (Rather like shrubs can do in an herbaceous border,  I suppose).

As well as oaks, we have other big trees here: enormous ash trees (including this one – possibly the largest ash I’ve ever known);



weeping willows;


One of the dozen or so alders


18 December 2009 (77)

and pines that are, by any measure, big.

18 December 2009 (20)

But it is the oaks that I notice and gaze at and think about the most.  They are everywhere you look: dozens upon dozens in the surrounding fields;

18 December 2009 (19)

hedge boundaries;

18 December 2009 (18)

along the river; and in neighbouring woods.  And when they die their presence still lingers like … well, like tales of the Priory ghost.

In the garden, by the east pond, there is the stump of an oak that was felled  long before I started work here. (It may have been the storm of ’87 that did the deed).  And when I walk past, I am often aware of it still missing; even though I never saw it.
I miss a tree I never knew.

Last year, up on the long drive leading up to the road, we had to fell an oak.  The drive is a public right of way and the oak’s main trunk was badly rotten and leant at an alarming angle.  A proper man came and did  the deed.  Whilst I have a chainsaw certificate (and indeed a chainsaw) with rather fetching chainsaw trousers (field grey with black trim – possibly a bit too Wehrmacht actually), I only tend to fell trees that I feel confident in handling.  (Knee height ones, generally).

Unless you’re trapped under a boulder in a canyon and the loss of a limb might be of benefit, you really ought to wear protective clothing when chainsawing.  There was a young lad on the forestry course I did a few years back.  He was a nice enough chap but (and let’s cut to the chase)  a bit thick.  Whilst we were clearing an area of scrub, he rested a tree limb on his thigh (yikes), to cut it with his chainsaw (double yikes).  Needless to say the chainsaw slipped (triple yikes) but luckily he was wearing protective trousers (phew).  The immensely strong fibres in the trouser material were ripped out by the saw’s chain and clogged  it to a halt.  The tutor (the rather apt Mr Pollard) was relieved that the brainless-one wasn’t injured, though couldn’t hide his frustration that a £120 pair of trousers were destroyed.

I am now going to have another oak felled.  I’ve ummed and ahhed over this  particular tree for nigh on three years.  I’ve stood and studied and scratched my head.  And my chin.  I’ve studied it from every angle and at every season.  And sadly I think it has to come down.  Here’s a photo of it:
It’s the central one.  Not huge, but of an age.  The main trunk splits and splits again and it sits too close to the very lovely oak to the right.  The latter needs space to grow; to fill out and the former is growing up through its crown.  Where they meet, they’re both shedding branches.   It’s a tough call.  Who wants to cut down a mature oak?  Not I.   But I think I’ve made the right decision, though it is, of course, an anxious one.


9 thoughts on “Oak Killer

    • Hi Shane, thanks for commenting – on such a very old post too! I’d almost forgotten about this particular oak felling but the one next to it certainly seems happier five years on. Dave


  1. Hello Dave

    No not suprised you didn't recognise me in my garb – even my close friends don't. Yes and we were only at Hudds a mere uhum well must not have been more than a few years ago.Doesn't time fly!

    A couple of years ago we had a little silver anniversary reunion of us all starting here and it was lovely to see your brother and other old friends again – I do have some pics of that somewhere on my blog – think around Nov 2008.

    Anyway I have put a link to your blog in my latest post – lots of my bloggy pals are keen gardeners as well so I think they would love your pics.

    Take care


  2. Thanks Karen – nice of you to say so.

    Hello Alison, blimey. Hello. I'm afraid I don't remember you but given I can barely remember last week (and often my own name) that's hardly surprising. Yes, I was at Huddersfield and yes, I did do the Human Ecology degree (the same intake as my brother) – though only for a term. I got distracted on a weekend trip to London and forgot to go back.

    I'm really very pleased that you like The AG – it's all very new to me still but er, I think I enjoy it. So time consuming though.

    I love clematis and lilies too and have far, far too many of the latter in pots. And Newty is a perfectly respectable name for a newt.

    Anyway, really good to hear from you and I do hope you stick around – I shall pop over to you to …. Had a quick a look just now and loved you dressed up as an Eleanor of Aquitaine lookey-likey, but sadly didn't recognise you. This seems odd given how very recently we were at Huddersfield!!!



  3. Hello Dave

    Lovely, lovely blog – your writing is really brilliant so funny and I love the pics. Your brother Pete posted a link from Facebook so I thought I would come and visit.

    I think we might have been at Hudds Poly at the same time- I do know I have met you but that may well be one of of my senior moments as I don't know if you were there long tems or just visiting. I did the Human Ecology Degree from 1982 to 1987.

    I have been blogging for the last 3 years and love it so I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do and make new friends through it as I have.

    My blog is about textiles – my passion is historical stuff and medieval re-enactment though I do dabble in modern things as well. I also love to garden and take pics but only in a very limited way.My fave plant is rhodedenrons though I have a real thing for lilies as well and after years of nothing have some fab clematis now in my garden.

    BTW fab to see newts – I thought they were very rare these days so great to see so many in your greenhouse. I love them – I had a pet one when I was a kid (must have got it from a pond somewhere) – with huge imagination I called it Newty.



  4. Hi Simon

    Yes I'm sure you look very cool in your Village People chaps. Very cool indeed. No, really. Please post photo. . . . and advise where I may get some.

    Yeah, I might save some of the oak wood though to be honest there is loads of wood and timber stored in the various outhouses. Any trees we fell or limbs we remove are used as firewood for the house – so not wasted. But I do intend to make some more wooden seats for the garden.

    Hi Jason

    I have planted one oak already (as well as the three transplantees), a palustris (from memory) and sadly am beginning to run out of tree planting space. Otherwise I would just keep on planting. I'm particularly keen to plant a small sweet chestnut plantation for coppicing and am working out if I've got the space. When I win the lottery (I should really buy a ticket), I shall just buy vast expanses of countryside and plant trees! And keep bees. And barn owls.


  5. Felling an oak is a sad thing to have to do, but you have good reason for doing so. There's no point having the split one stunting the development of the one next to it. You can always plant a new oak somewhere else in the Priory to make up for the loss.


  6. Don't worry Dave…. it's the right decision! I will back you up on it! 🙂 Can you use some of the timber from the tree to make something for the garden?? It would mean the tree will still be in the garden in one way or another for years to come!
    I have a rather fetching pair of chainsaw chaps to use with my chainsaw and certificate!!! How cool do i look when i'm felling a tree… they are very YMCA shall i say!! 🙂 (although i don't think they are actually legal anymore??)


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