Measuring time in terms of trees

We started the Woodland Trust recording programme today – a programme that is going to see us take monthly readings for the next 25 years. I say “us” but I’m not sure about the chances of me being here in 2040. I’m more likely to be under a tree than measuring one by that time.

Despite this, it’s good to think we’re involved in an activity which may persuade people to start more agroforestry schemes. It may never be a mainstream farming technique but even if only a few people do it as a result of our recording it will make it all worthwhile. How often do you get a chance to alter the world?

We are measuring wind and temperature data in the fields between the rows of apple trees to see how they modify the climate. It’s not as interesting as measuring the height and spread, but you don’t really need to do that every month.


It does you good to think in terms of trees rather than human lifespan. Most of the world’s problems seem to be caused by people who don’t think very far ahead and if we all started planting trees for our grandchildren the world would be a better place.

I planted two trees in the garden a few years ago. I’m not really sure how many years, probably about fifteen. I honestly didn’t plan it too well. They were too close to each other and too close the the boundary fence. When I planted them they were about six feet tall and were meant to be trained in a ballerina shape. The neighbour who gave them to me hadn’t pruned them for a couple of years but I was confident I could get them back to form.

Lesson One: Overconfidence is not a good thing.

Three or four years later, with some lax pruning they were small trees and were growing into each other. As the birds were getting more cherries than we were (one year we literally harvested FOUR cherries) I decided the cherry tree should go.

Lesson Two: Try to vsiualise things as they will be in years to come.

Finally, with some properly structured pruning, I have a very productive plum tree, which is now the source of a dispute with my neighbours. They don’t like it hanging over their garden and they don’t like the plums dropping off and making a mess. I’d actually left the branches on as I thought they might like a few plums and might think I was tight if I cut the branches back. Seems I was wrong.

Lesson Three: A gift of free plums is not always appreciated.


8 thoughts on “Measuring time in terms of trees

  1. Pingback: Scarecrows and free tea | quercuscommunity

  2. tootlepedal

    I’m with Caroline on the plum front. Our plum tree had so much fruit this year that we had to prune the fruit frantically to stop it breaking. Two years ago it had none. It is hard to plan.

  3. B. J. Hollywood

    Hi, there. Just stopped by to thank you for liking the last post, on my Save & Share blog, “Seed happens…if you let it.” Hey, here’s an ancient Chinese proverb, ‘The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today.’ Good on you! I planted some black plum pits, from some fruit my husband and I got at the market last summer, and one sprouted. My plum tree is about four inches tall. It’s my darling of the front garden. It may take awhile, but so what. I’m going to enjoy every year of it. All the very best, Barbara Jean Hollywood.


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