When the Celts and Pagans cleared this land of trees they did so for survival. They would always leave the biggest tree in the area as they worshiped trees. Trees provided shelter, heat, food, food for animals they lived off, furniture, tools; basically their whole life revolved around the life cycle of a tree.
The worshipping of trees came to the end when Oliver Cromwell banned the practice. It was replaced only by Capability Brown 100 years later when he became the rich-man’s landscape gardener and the planting of trees became popular. When you plant a tree you don’t plant it for yourself but for those yet to come, a habit lost in today’s society.
Dutch Elm disease took over 20% of the trees in Treflach over 40 years ago which allowed more light into woods causing wild flowers to flourish with the remaining trees filling the gaps. Unlike other areas in the last 50 years trees have been planted locally. Bruce Baird planted a wood nearby -Treflach Farm has put in various plantations and Treflach Hall has planted individual trees all around.
The easiest way to establish a tree is to allow a prominent sapling growing in a hedge to flourish - no need for any maintenance. The second easiest is to fence off an area and plant a wood. The third and most difficult, but most rewarding, is to plant individual trees but these have to be looked after to prevent animals devouring them. A cow can reach 6 feet so fencing is a major job. Treflach Farm has a silvapasture, an example where agriculture and forestry converge; the synergy creates huge benefits to society, ecology and productivity. The modern farming of today doesn’t value trees, they are usually in the way of large machinery. Fungicide kills the very life that supports their roots and if the animals never go outside their shade from rain, wind and sun is not required.
When I said the planting of an individual tree is the most rewarding it is our landscape that is all the more dramatic - a landscape that also feeds us but appreciates nature also. Next time you are walking in open countryside count the number of trees over 50 or even 100 years old – it won’t be many!