Celebrating Devon’s Trees

trees at Quince

By Quince Honey


Since work begun at the new site for Quince Honey Farm there have been well over 7,000 trees planted! It is always a frustration for tree planting that it is a long wait until the landscape changes into the desired aesthetic. In 10 years or hopefully less the landscape of Quince will see a large amount of trees in full canopy as well as woodland, withy beds and orchard.

There is little else more rewarding than being able to look up a satellite image and see the trees you planted establishing themselves. With the importance of trees becoming increasingly recognised, particularly in regards climate change mitigation, it is no wonder Foresters are smug!

In recent years research into trees has given us some astounding facts, which make the fantastical trees of James Cameron’s movie, Avatar appear dull in comparison. Trees can talk to each other both below ground and above. Trees can change the landscape around them to suit themselves. Trees can remediate polluted soil and polluted air. The surface area of a mature tree’s phyllosphere (all of the tree you see above ground), is well over 5 acres! A landscape unto itself… trees can self-engineer themselves to grow pretty much anywhere!

As with so much of the natural world the more we found out, the more there is to find out.

And we are vastly underestimating how old trees really are, particularly in this part of the world where so many ancient trees abide due to little changes in the landscape since people first started to farm!

The painting on the right is by Thomas Walmsley more than 250 years ago, the Oak is easily identifiable today, not much bigger than when painted – thus this rather small tree is likely to be at least 600 years old!

It is now considered that the only true method of aging a tree is by radiocarbon dating from a sample at the base of the tree and the results of such highlight that what we see above ground rarely reflects what is actually happening. We have several Devon Whitebeams at Quince Honey Farm in our hedgerows and further investigation of a clump of these trees led to the discovery it was, in fact, all the same tree. In the car park there is a stretch of hedgerow containing many Devon Whitebeams stems – but this is all probably one tree!

The small tree in the forefront is one of the stems of a single Devon Whitebeam, one of several on the Quince Honey Farm estate.

Planting trees to mitigate against climate change is one of the biggest issues in land management across the world. It is deeply concerning to continue to see more global deforestation yearly than any previous year, but there is much cause for optimism as so many community projects are creating thousands of hectares of new planting. And in the UK one of the best things we can be doing is collecting seed from the ancient and venerable trees in our communities and growing these on for future generations to enjoy for hundreds of years to come…

The Flitton Oak, just to the north of Quince Honey Farm, is an ancient Oak, from which we have gathered acorns to grow on the farm.

Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee is being celebrated this year, and with this a unique tree planting initiative called The Queen’s Green Canopy is taking place where people from across the United Kingdom are encouraged to “Plant a Tree for the Jubilee”. We are pleased to be supporting this and have donated 12 Lime Trees to the South Molton Community, as well as further tree planting on the Quince Honey Farm estate itself. As mentioned earlier, since Quince Honey Farm moved to the new site in 2019, we are proud to have planted over 7,000 trees and to have created the first ‘Bee specific arboretum’ in the world. One of our many ambitions is to continue the legacy of Devon’s rich arboreal landscape, and we are by no means finished yet.

Please click here to find out more about our pollinator-friendly Nectar Gardens.

Blog written by Pip Howard, Head Gardener at Quince Honey Farm.

We recently hosted a talk on Celebrating Devon’s Trees and the Queen’s Green Canopy. Here are some photos from the event. Please keep an eye on our website for announcements of forthcoming talks and events.

Tree Talktree talk


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