The #inktober prompt word for day 23 is Ancient. I sketched this ancient oak tree (or what remains of it) in Bushy Park, Kingston.
An oak tree can be called ancient when it has reached the ripe old age of 400 years (any younger than that it is only a veteran). I believe this one to be 1000 years old (disappointed if I’m wrong!).
I stood for quite a while studying the tree for my sketch and imagined what it might have seen.
Did it witness King Henry VIII riding out from Hampton Court Palace in 1529 in his newly created Deer Chase to hunt fallow and red deer on this land? And, did Henry also hunt wild boar here?
The deer are still here to roam the deer park…but there are no boars…
This old English Oak was ripped asunder by a dramatic lightening strike in Bushy Park—a mere fragment of what it was—but it is still alive!
Ancient Oak – Poem
It has been split asunder
by lightening and thunder
The history it may have witnessed where it stood
This great oak tree made of wood
*I haven’t had time to finish this rhyme/poem! Does anyone feel like completing it for me? 😁
English Oak and Wildlife
Hollow ancient and veteran oaks provide valuable habitat and homes for a wide range of wildlife—bugs, beetles, ants, birds, bats, hornets, wasps…not to mention fungi…the list can go on. Decaying and fallen trees support a host of scarce and endangered species. Tidying up fallen trees is not a good idea as today our wildlife needs every ecological support it can get!
Pollarding of the old English Oak was a traditional way of managing and stimulating growth of the leaf canopy and timber and above the reach of the deer. It has been said that English Oaks were all pollarded as a protest against the execution of Lady Jane Grey.
Samuel Pepys would carry acorns in his pocket and plant them—something we should perhaps all be doing now?
I picked up a pedunculate oak acorn the other day! Now, where shall I plant it…?