To celebrate the release of our 26 Trees pieces this month, we wanted to hear your earliest memories of a tree. And you did not disappoint. From family memories to the fruits of childhood imagination, here’s a collection of the memories shared by members and friends of 26.
In Bricket Wood, a friendly tree
I’m in Bricket Wood, not actually a
wood, but the village I grew up in.
I’m in the back garden with my
grandad. We’re not doing anything in particular, just talking and idling the
We have two fair-sized oaks that block
out the light in summer, and blitz the garden with brown crinkled leaves in
My grandad looks up at one of the
oaks. He’s quiet and thoughtful for a moment. Then he turns to me and says, “I’ve
always thought that trees are friendly. I can’t explain why, there’s just
something warm about them. Something you can trust.”
Just like you I think, but never say
it, and it’s too late now.
– Andy Hayes
Home. Three cherry trees.
Spring: in blossom, clouds of it
suspended outside my bedroom window.
Summer: dappled sunlight dancing on
Autumn: gleefully ‘helping’ Dad sweep
up the leaves (captured on Kodak).
Winter: still full of life – birds flocking to the feeders strung from the branches by Dad to make my birdwatching mum smile.
– Sophie Gordon
Favourite earliest tree memory must be
of the yew in the garden of the vicarage where I grew up, and my attempts to
climb it, though these never got very far.
– Aidan Baker
My earliest tree memory is of a very
old plum tree that dominated our back garden – I think it was the only tree we
had. It produced a huge amount of plums but temptingly kept too many of them
just out of reach. When I was three or perhaps four I remember my dad climbing
almost to the top of the tree on a harvesting mission and my mum yelling at him
to be careful. The tree won, my dad lost – he fell, of course – and the highest
fruit was left for the birds. Happily my dad lived to tell the tale (a slightly
different version from the one I tell). And I was left averse to childhood
tree-climbing games and convinced (still) that trees are best viewed from
– Wendy Jones
Although I sometimes climbed the apple
tree at the bottom of my garden, my
bookwormish tendencies meant that most of my climbing was virtual,
thanks to Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree. More recently I climbed right
inside a hollowed tree at the bottom of
the driveway of a finca in Aracena while on a Dark Angels course. No one else
knew. They might do now.
– Lisa Andrews
It’s a sunny winter morning. My big
sister and I are playing on our swings under the flickering shadows of a huge
London Plane tree. Singing at the tops of our voices, we swing higher and
higher, oblivious to the frost on the seats and the cold metal chains in our
– Sarah Hill
Huge poplar trees grew in the field
beyond our kitchen window. Then one day
they weren’t there anymore, felled by
disease. The horizon was empty. A
piece of me was, too.
– Jan Dekker via Twitter
I went to primary school in Drury Lane
in central London. My mum dropped me off at school in the morning on her way to
work, then my nan collected me after school and put me on the bus home to our
flat near Kings Cross. I remember waiting at the bus stop in Kingsway, a wide
road filled with traffic and lined with trees. In the autumn I particularly
remember the flocks of starlings in the sky, wheeling and turning above the
rooftops and above the trees. The trees I now know as plane trees. So in being
paired with a plane tree as ‘my’ tree, I have this strange but comforting
feeling of heading home.
– John Simmons
My favourite earliest memory of a
tree? It has to be Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree. I had a green battered
hardback copy, the front cover barely held on by dried up sellotape. I’d
retreat to my bedroom with a Granny Smith’s apple, draw the curtains (orange,
William Morris design, their threadbare lining a tatty echo of the book’s
cover, the sun always seemed to stream through them) and bury myself in the
world of Moonface, Saucepan-Man and Silky. The tree’s topmost branches
reached into the clouds and it was so wide it had small houses carved into its
trunk. And there were the popcakes, which oozed honey. Childhood bliss!
– Sophie Olszowski
There are several trees that form
attachments of memories in my childhood (so I’ve discovered as part of the
prompts on Twitter), but the earliest is probably a rather sorry tree, more of
a deformed trunk, at the end of a family friend’s garden (near Buckingham). The
lawn sloped down to this lone tree, with open fields behind it. It really
seemed to stick out from the land. I remember asking my dad why the tree was
broken, and being confused by the answer. ‘It died because of a disease, Dutch
Elm Disease.’ I had no idea that something could make trees poorly, and I was
quite upset by it.
I was probably five or six years old.
– Julia Webb-Harvey
Somewhere, lost in time, is a
saturated photo of me in a faux camelhair coat. The photo has curved corners,
dating it – and me. It was taken on a long ago family visit to Westonbirt
Arboretum in Gloucestershire. It was late autumn or early winter and desperately
cold but I was swept up by the colour of this extraordinary living museum of
trees. The acers are spectacular in autumn but I love the humble native trees.
I collected leaf skeletons a memento of my visit, marvelling that in these
fragile remnants, where all but the veins have decayed, the form of the parent
tree is encoded. Hidden in the back of a draw for a decade between pieces of
paper, they were found during a house move. And they have accompanied me on
another dozen house moves since. Twenty years ago I put two of the surviving
leaves in a frame, and these have been on my walls ever since. I am looking at
– Philip Parker
Being too small to climb big sycamore
that my brother would climb and sit and look down teasing me! Tree is still in
– Steve Hill via Twitter
Apple tree in my dads garden… we had
five but the top one of the row had been hit by lightning early in its life and
grew small, twisted and stunted. Apples were delicious though. There was also
an orange blossom that grew over the path in my mums flower garden, if i close
my eyes i can still smell the heavy scent. I had a couple of blooms woven into
my veil on my wedding day.
– Phyllis Rosemary Harris via Twitter
Stealing a tomato, clearing off to the
fields to the fairy tree, sinking my teeth into it and thinking yeuch. I like
them now though.
– Therese Kieran via Twitter
A plot of trees were planted near my
childhood home to replace those lost in the great storm (I was born two years
later). They grew with me.
– Charlotte via Twitter
From the patio of my grandparents’ high-up
house in Cheshire you could see far away over the landscape – all the way to
Tegg’s Nose, which my sister and I would climb and wave from on Big Days Out in
the countryside. Though we couldn’t see the house and they wouldn’t have been
able to see us atop it either.
But also from the patio – looking dead
ahead – you could see a truly colossal oak tree, which must have been ancient.
The rest of the landscape around it, all distant hills and sheep fields, seemed
to exist only to frame it. My grandmother would sometimes paint that tree. I
think I even tried to once or twice. We never reached it (it was on a fence
between two private farmlands and further than it appeared given its size) but
it was like the still point of the turning world. Wherever you saw it from, you
knew where you were and how far my grandparents’ house was.
My grandparents sold that house when I
was a young teenager, but I tried to find it on Google Earth once. I scanned
the landscape from above until I found the top of a vast oak tree, dividing two
farmlands. And to find that old house, all I had to do was navigate back again.
– Julia Fox
The lilac tree in my back garden – with
a bit of washing line and a blanket, it was transformed into the prettiest and
sweetest smelling den.
– Clare Jennings via Twitter
I grew up with a beautiful beech tree that I recall regularly.
– Paul Wood, author of London is a Forest, via Twitter
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