National Treasures

2048px-Lime_treeWhile much of our tree planting and protection work has been in the tea and coffee growing countries we source from, we have also planted thousands of trees in our beautiful Yorkshire countryside. It’s an opportunity to raise awareness of the value of trees and woodlands as ‘national treasures’ in our home communities – beautifying local spaces and supporting a huge variety of wildlife.

Thanks to Bettys Trees for Life, we’re delighted to be supporting a new woodland project on our doorstep –the Three Hagges Jubilee Wood at Escrick, near York. The aim of Hagge Woods Trust is not just to plant trees but to grow them as part of thriving ecosystems which will sustain a vast diversity of wildlife. Biologist, Lin Hawthorne, is helping to lead this pioneering approach to woodland creation and is sharing progress from the project through her ‘Nature Notes’ blogs for Bettys. Here is an extract from her notes on the Linden Tree:

June sees the lime trees come into bloom, lending their intoxicating fragrance to the air around. The blossom of our native small-leaved is a rich nectar source for honeybees, which make fine honey from it, and bumbles love it too; you may well hear the buzz before you spot the tree. The flowers make a soothing, calming and digestif tea, or tisane, which, according to Proust, proves excellent for the dunking of petite madeleines.

Although not now widely planted, traditionally lime was coppiced, and there are coppice stools known to be 2000 years old, as in the famous tree at the National Arboretum at Westonbirt in Gloucestershire. The smooth, creamy white timber would have been used as fuel, bean-poles, for cups and bowls, and as the wood does not impart any flavour, it is still used for carved butter moulds. The flexible inner bark, or bast, was very useful for making rope; perhaps a forerunner of baler twine!

At Three Hagges Wood, we have planted about 1,000 native small-leaved limes, Tilia cordata, though it will be years before they provide the bees with bloom. But while we await the blossom, they’ll prove incredibly useful for other forms of wildlife.

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