The Woodland Trust tree of the year: a winning outdoor communications campaign that goes back to our roots

The competition has got us thinking why we should show our trees some love.

From biblical chapters to childhood memories, trees take hold of many aspects of our lives. But it’s easy to forget just how important they are.

That’s why we love the Woodland Trust’s Tree of the Year competition – a campaign to highlight the nation’s favourite trees. They include the original Bramley apple tree to the inspiration for the mulberry bush rhyme.

The shortlist was whittled down from nearly 200 public nominations based on the tree’s story, how they would use the winning £1,000 care grant and the visual appeal of the tree.

Members of the public can vote for their favourite tree with the winners going forward to the European tree of the year competition in early 2017.

It seems like a lot of effort for a few trees, but let’s not forget that many trees were here long before us, and they’ll be here long after we are gone.

Take the 1,000-year-old Bowthorpe oak, which sits in a field at Manthorpe, Lincolnshire, for example. Its hollow trunk has been used for parties and at one point, it is claimed, three dozen people managed to stand within it.

Bowthorpe Oak, Photo: Julian Hight

Bowthorpe Oak, Photo: Julian Hight

 

Or the mulberry bush at HMP Wakefield, West Yorkshire. It is thought that it is the mulberry bush is where the nursery rhyme ‘Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush’ has its origins. When the prison was a House of Correction, women prisoners used to dance around the tree with their children, and invented the rhyme to keep the children amused.
The original tree is still in the centre of what was the exercise yard.

Mulberry Bush (Photo: HMP Wakefield)

Mulberry Bush (Photo: HMP Wakefield)

 

Then there’s the original Bramley apple tree in Southwell, Nottinghamshire. This tree is the mother of all modern Bramley apple trees, and was planted more than 200 years ago by Ann Brailsford from a pip in 1809. In 1856 Henry Merryweather came across a gardener carrying some of its fruit, and asked where it had been grown. By this time the tree belonged to the butcher, called Matthew Bramley.

Original Bramley Apple (Photo: Robert Rathbone)

Original Bramley Apple (Photo: Robert Rathbone)

 

The Woodland Trust, the UK’s largest tree conservation charity, says life is better with trees. And of course it is – but we need more of them. From providing us with oxygen to absorbing carbon monoxide and providing a habitat to wildlife, their physical benefits are multiple. But they also benefit us mentally.

I would argue that everyone has a favourite tree. Mine is at a local reservoir. Every Christmas people who visit the reservoir hang cards and decorations from its branches. Some are in memory of loved ones and pets, others to simply wish fellow visitors a merry Christmas.

That one tree unites dozens of strangers every year. In my family we call it the magic tree. I don’t think that’s its official name, but to us it’s a fitting moniker.

That’s why the Woodland Trust’s tree of the year campaign is so important. The prize may help to protect one tree for generations to come, but the initiative will hopefully remind us just why we should appreciate every single tree, every single day.

You can vote for The Woodland trust’s tree of the year competition until 9 October. Visit http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/tree-of-the-year/ for more information.

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