A Love Letter to Trees

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”
Kahlil Gebran

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Chinese proverb

No one wrote as eloquently about the influence of trees on human life as the late Professor Aubrey Manning, but I will try to put in words, however modest, my own gratitude and love for the healing powers of trees. There is also the recently discovered – in the last two decades –  astonishing secret life of trees. It is important to write about these findings because our ignorance still allows us to cut down trees that made our streets cleaner, healthier and beautiful, cut down trees that are in our countryside but along railway lines, and even trees in our gardens to make space for cars, sheds and other ‘essentials’.

“Fair Albion” by Patrick Hawes:

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Meanwhile, there has been an unprecedented increase in cases of asthma, especially in children living in cities, and an increasing level of people experiencing mental problems. I realise that there are many complex reasons involved, but for those who live surrounded by the concrete jungle in many cities, it must be a sure road to depression, boredom and often crime. In one of my last posts, I quoted Dr Max Pemberton and the study in Michigan that connected drab views from prison windows with repeated offending of prisoners, as opposed to those inmates who were looking at trees and green bushes.

CambridgeBotanicGarden6

Surviving my turbulent childhood was all down to my living surrounded by trees of the mountain forest. The three-mile walk to school was down the mountain’s dry stream bed, which created a rough but much shorter passageway than the elegant serpentine road that spanned the mountain like an asphalt ribbon. My best friend, Eva, was as much fascinated by Greek Mythology stories as I was, and we would roam through our patch of dense woods ‘building’ temples: mine was to Selene, the goddess of the Moon, and hers to Diana, the huntress. We were never bored because to play in the sun-dappled, green density of the woodland, with the intoxicating scent of pine needles, soft moss under our bare feet and birds chirping overhead, was as close to paradise as any 10-year old child could get.

“Song to the Moon” by Antonín Dvořák

 

TroutStream

At the same time, I read all the books by the legendary naturalist Grey Owl. His story of saving two baby beavers and life in the vast forests of Canada captivated people all over the world. He travelled the world, speaking even to the royals in England. His passionate message was simple: we must protect Earth’s environment, animals and forests in particular. Trees are Earth’s lungs and we need clean air, or we will destroy our future.

GreyOwl

There is so much we are still learning about the secret life of trees. For a few years now, we have known about the acacia trees in Africa. When one tree’s leaves are being munched by passing giraffes, it releases a powerful tannin through its surface pores. The smell is carried downwind and the next acacia tree picks it up and automatically releases its own tannin in response to the message. One of the readers of my blog, Tim who lives in Africa, observed that giraffes will never feed in the direction of the wind because all the trees would exude the tannin. Instead, they will be browsing against the wind on unsuspecting acacias. It is a remarkable case of communication between the trees, and no doubt, there is more to be discovered.

Giraffa (camelopardalis tippelskirchi), Giraffe, Masai Mara National Reserve.

When Dame Judi Dench filmed a documentary about her beloved trees in the grounds of her six-acre garden, it was wonderful to hear the water travelling up the tree from its roots to the leaves, courtesy of a special listening device, and wonder at the technology. The fact, discovered not long ago, that older trees help and communicate with younger ones through a fungi network that connects their roots, is also mind-boggling. Her last comment: “I have always thought of my trees as part of my family and that there’s so much more to these magical beings than I realised. And now I know there is.”

There is also a growing realisation that being in daily contact with woodland helps people to recover from the daily stress of modern life: commuting, general overcrowding, pollution, and urban noise.AiraForce0

Our GPs are now prescribing organised walks through the woods for those needing to experience the healing power of trees. They are people with depression, anxiety, autism and even earlier stages of dementia. The courses are gaining in popularity, and not before time. Participants are taught the skills of working with wood (can you remember the intoxicating scent of fresh wood shavings?), surviving in the forest and observation skills – how many shades of green are there?  It is quite moving to hear their tearful endorsements that without the woods they would be lost and without a will to live. Meeting with the wildlife of the woods, squirrels, and birds adds to the experience.

“Light Through the Trees” by Ian Aisling

Ashridge69

For me, the greatest pleasure in May is to walk through the woods and admire the carpet of English bluebells that is stretching between the trees. And what can rival the magnificent beauty of magnolias and ornamental cherry trees? A feast for the eyes and soul. All of us should leave a legacy and plant a tree.

In 2019 the Chelsea Flower Show was for the first time in history dedicated not to flowers but trees. The slogan – Planting trees could save the Earth – was evident in many show gardens. My favourite was designed by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.  It contained woodland, a bubbling stream, lots of pebbles, a willow den, secret pathways and huge ferns. Her children loved it. I admired her parenting skills when she showed baby Louis how interesting is a large pebble, its colour, and shape. 

DuchessCambridgeChelseaGarden3

My own garden was created based on the same principles – masses of trees, climbing roses entwined into the trees, lots of wildlife, and an extra bonus of wonderful fruits at harvest time.

RosesAbove

WhiteRosesFrontDoor2

And the icing on the cake at harvest time:

plums

SpringLandscape

In my post about the Duchy of Cornwall, I wrote about Prince Charles’s passionate belief in the importance of trees. He has already planted two hundred and fifty thousand trees and is planting more. The iconic, worldwide bestseller about the shepherd who was ‘The Man Who Planted Trees’ written by Jean Giono had one purpose; to make people love trees or more precisely, to make them love planting the trees: for who plants trees, grows happiness.  Let’s join Prince Charles and get planting and grow happiness.

“Greensleeves”

And here to inspire us is a film Forest Man about Jadav Payeng who has been planting trees to save his island since the 1970s:

PS Some suggestions for my fellow book lovers:

A classic to dip into:

A more recent rewarding read:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

69 thoughts on “A Love Letter to Trees

  1. Your posts always resonate with lovely nature and pleasant picture views Joanna. The music is so melodious mix of mesmarizing nature’s beauty. Picture perfect write up. Your love for the nature is a great inspiration. Lovely flowers out there. Thank you for sharing, it was truly a pleasant read. ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Thank you, Suma, for your generous comments!! I am glad we have so much in common.

    Joanna

    Like

  3. Oh, I love both proverbs. That’s so lovely to read. Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.❤️❤️

    Liked by 4 people

  4. A very important message, Joanna. We have to stop cutting them down and plant more instead. Such inspiring stories. Trees and nature do have a calming effect indeed. I hope that more people will become aware of this. Beautiful post, Joanna

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Thank you. Shweta, I am so glad that you like the idea of planting trees!!

    Joanna

    Like

  6. Thank you so much, If we all plant a tree or two, we will save our planet and ourselves!!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You’re most welcome 🙂

    Like

  8. Oh, Joanna, I’m bowled over by this post! AND, you include the music of Patrick Hawes and the book of Suzanne Simard’s! I’m in heaven! Unfortunately, the world isn’t in heaven right now. It is in decline, heading into the abyss as greedy joyriders head into space to distract us! I know, I have to have hope, faith, but it is difficult right now! I give thanks to people like you who encourage us to be positive and hopeful. Enjoy what’s left of the weekend 💐💐💖💝🙋‍♂️

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Dear Ashley, I cannot thank you enough for your wonderful comments!!!
    Let’s hope that there are enough people who understand this and will plant the trees!

    Joanna

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  11. Oh I loved that first proverb so much! Absolutely an engaging read, Joanna. Nature is like oxygen to my poems! Stay blessed and be well❤️❤️

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Thank you, Diana, for your kind comments. Nature is the most important element of our lives.

    Joanna

    Like

  13. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  14. Beautiful post, Joanna. The photos you’ve posted are breathtaking, of trees and flowers and water. I’ve made note of your 2 book recommendations, thank you. Nature is indeed a perfect design and includes us! Thank you for sharing your love of our Primal Mother! 🌞

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Thank you, Lisa, for your kind comments! I have to write about what is in my heart, as I am passionate about Nature,, and it needs our protection!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This post definitely resonated, Joanna, as my husband and I are truly tree lovers. We have hiked among Redwoods, giving them hugs along the way. Perfect quotes to go with your images and lovely music. Thank you for nudging us to be more aware of nature’s beauty and the relevance of trees.
    ~Lauren

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Thank you again, Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thank you, Lauren, I feel the same, without the trees, we would perish.

    Joanna

    Like

  19. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  20. This post of yours is special for me, Joanna. The two quotes by Gebran set the mood and Patrick’s music made it soothing. I believe that the nature is the greatest artist/painter. Owl’s quote that trees are earth’s lungs is a universal truth.

    I also came to know about your childhood. The story of acacia leaves and giraffe and also talking of older trees with younger ones were new to me. I have seen in my own garden that if plants are kept separated from each other, they start fading away, but flourish in company of other plants.

    You are right, Joanna, we are still learning, as we have not yet learnt all the nuances of nature. But you have really done favour to me by adding a film ‘Forest Man’. I had gone to Jorhat in Assam in 2018. From there, I went by a steamer to Majuli river island, mentioned in this film. It’s a beautiful island with cultural traditions and artwork all over.

    You know, I keep a separate slot for reading your posts. If one goes through all audio and video clippings along with text, it takes more than half an hour. I won’t be doing justice to your time and efforts, if I don’t read the post in its entirety.

    Thank you, Joanna for giving an opportunity to go through such unique posts. Stay blessed!!

    Like

  21. Thank you, KK, for your as always, wonderful, detailed comments!! I am glad that you know about “Forest Man”, I just love his story!!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  23. My pleasure, and yes, I had also worked in Assam and Meghalaya long back.

    Like

  24. Most welcome!!

    Like

  25. stunning pictures and so much love and heart in your delivery and honor of nature Joanna 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Thank you, Cindy. for your kindness! I only write about what I love, and nature is my greatest passion.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  28. and it shows Joanne.. it’s my pleasure!💖

    Like

  29. you’re so welcome💖

    Like

  30. Amazing videos, very interesting share from Tim about Africa and the giraffes and inspiring to see how one person saved his island. Lovely post and you have a beautiful garden 🌸💕

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Thank you, Henrietta, for your generous comments! I love the woodsman!

    Joanna

    Like

  32. You know that how to present nature to the readers. You are a true nature lover. I found your blog is richer than many books. I really loved your ‘Love Letter of a Tree’.
    You are incredible indeed.
    Best
    Raziq Kakar

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Thank you, Dr Raziq Kakar, for your wonderful comments. The planting of trees is a must!!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Cool tree shots 👍🏽

    Like

  36. Thank you, Quentin. greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  37. Dearest Joanna, I am not sure if it were you writing this love letter, or were these trees who chose you to wrote through. I think it is undoubtedly the latter. The head image, the first one of the grandest father look-alike tree is a drug to look at. Like this post, is a miracle drug.

    I can only wonder how would it be to spend evening or mornings under him. It will be a blessing i think. And as i write this i think i have already lost those 20+ years for i have not even started yet.

    I also think now i must direct my sight to travel to only those places where trees are hundred or more years and ask them straight to tell me the stories of the wind. With this i may never have to speak with humans.

    Each word, every image chosen. The sound track over which i read it the first time, the videos is a garland of perfection which this magnificent author of nature must wear who has been leading us every week to a better branch to sit at. The books recommended, the examples of the jungle men and of the acacia trees and the giraffe, and the image of the berry filled kitchen will remain with me forever.

    I would only thank her for being her. For there is no one who can evoke what she does for nature, like her name.

    Nara x

    Like

  38. Thank you, Narayan, for such wonderful comments!! As you always come up with very interesting ideas, the thought of writing storied told you by the trees about the wind is indeed just brilliant in originality. Please, do it!! Just look at the images in the post, and your imagination will place you under that tree, and your talent will do the rest.
    I love being called Nature, the greatest compliment for me to receive!! Thank you, Dear Narayan!! When one day you will plant many trees. it will be your legacy to India, and an answer to the question: “Who am I? “, and “Why I am here?” And it will be enough, plus your magnificent writing.

    Joanna x

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  40. I do love trees! This is wonderful Joanna. Trees are the source of survival of the planet. I pains my heart to see all the new developments clearing the land for new developments. Population growth is a major problem around the world. Trees are taking a hit as a result. Keep up the good work!
    Dwight

    Like

  41. Thank you, Dwight, for sharing many people’s views. Perhaps enough to make a change.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  43. I hope it can make a difference!

    Like

  44. I very much hope too!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

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