The Importance of Trees in Lockdown – Guest Blog by Charlotte Guillain, Author of What Did the Tree See? on Day Two of the Blog Tour

I’ve always spent a lot of time walking in nature. I find it’s great for my mental health, gives me energy and helps me to process things that are happening in my life and work. We’re lucky enough to live within walking distance of the Blenheim Palace estate in Oxfordshire and this has meant I’ve got into the habit of starting my working days with a long walk around its grounds.

The park is full of mature trees – beech, lime, poplar, cedar, chestnut, ash and oak. I’ve always felt extremely lucky to pass by them every day. The ancient oaks at Blenheim inspired me to write my new non-fiction book, What Did the Tree See? (illustrated by Sam Usher) – I was fascinated by everything that had happened in the world around these trees over the centuries that they have been growing. Giving an ancient oak the voice to tell its story opened my eyes to how valuable and unique these trees are.

And then the Covid-19 pandemic happened. Suddenly we were in lockdown and I couldn’t go and wander among the trees whenever I wanted to. We were rationed to one outing a day for exercise. Never have I appreciated the trees in the park more! Every minute spent wandering past them in the spectacular spring of 2020 was a moment to be treasured. Seeing the green leaves appear as winter fell away gave such a feeling of hope and renewal. On hot summer days their dappled shade was a welcome relief and gradually millions of acorns began to appear. The world had been shut down but the trees were going on in their miraculous way. There was something very comforting about this, knowing the oaks had lived through previous times of war and disease and come out the other side, stronger than ever.

I know I haven’t been alone in finding solace from trees during the pandemic. People in the countryside and in cities have expressed love and appreciation for the trees in their environment. When the Woodland Trust held its annual vote for Tree of the Year and showcased beautiful trees all over the country, the winner in England was the much-loved Happy Man Tree in Hackney. Sadly, this tree has since been cut down to make way for construction. Everyone, wherever they live, deserves trees in their surroundings. I hope that beyond the pandemic we’ll all find a new resolve to preserve and treasure our mature trees and the thousands of species that each supports. These trees have lived through many human lifetimes of change and upheaval and they deserve our protection.

What Did the Tree See? by Charlotte Guillain, illustrated by Sam Usher (£12.99, Welbeck Children’s) available now.

Check out the other fantastic blogs featuring on the What Did the Tree See? Tour, via the banner below

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