It’s National Tree Week – a UK celebration of trees timed to launch the winter planting season. The Woodland Trust are coordinating hundreds of communities who will be out and about to mark this occasion, getting their hands dirty planting trees.
We cut our teeth in the garden furniture industry with wooden sets so trees have always been very close to our hearts. In those days it was African Teak, or as it is more properly called, Iroko. Iroko is a large hardwood tree from the west coast of tropical Africa. The ‘African Teak’ label is something of a misnomer – the wood bears no relations to the teak family. It’s prized in the garden furniture industry for its colour – which darkens over time from a yellow to a rich brown. In some West African cultures, the Iroko tree is feared and therefore to be avoided or placated with offerings. The Yoruba tribe believe that the tree is inhabited by a spirit who will bring death to anyone who sees him. The Yoruba avoid cutting Iroko trees since to fell one would bring misfortune. They also believe that you can hear the trapped spirit of the Iroko in houses built of that timber.
In the 1980s, it was all Karri – that distinctive reddish West Australian Eucalyptus tree, favoured by the timber industry for its fast rate of growth and the density of the wood which is hard and strong. Our Karri wooden patio furniture was very popular for its longevity and Southern hemisphere vibe.
RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Add to that the fact that for more than a decade, preparing for and then showing at the RHS Shows at Chelsea and Hampton Court were a major part of our annual activity. Naturally, given the pedigree of the RHS, we had to pay particular attention to the planting used in our display. Despite the fact that we were displaying outdoor patio furniture, the trees that were used for the trade stand, as well as the smaller arrangements on the metal garden tables and the flowering shrubs were all of tantamount importance.
Plant a Tree For National Tree Week
More simply, since we eat, drink and breathe garden furniture, it isn’t surprising that we feel so strongly about these marvellous plants. Let’s take a moment to celebrate our National Tree Week (29 November to 7th December) – after all, we wouldn’t be here without trees.
The Woodland Trust is using this week to promote their schemes for planting trees. By visiting their site, for a few pounds you are able to choose to have a tree planted in the name of a loved one or to mark a particular occasion. There’s a handy map showing 53 woodlands so that you can opt to supplement the tree stock in an existing mature wood or young wood; or even help the Woodland Trust where they are establishing new woodlands with their ‘plant a tree woods’ such as Heartwood Forest, Sandridge, Hertfordshire. Heartwood is located in London’s Green Belt and will become England’s largest new native forest by the time it has been completed. So far, the wood stretches for 45 acres of ancient woodland, supporting all the wildlife that goes with it.