Despite looking up the date back in September I've missed National Tree Week (24th November - 2nd December) for another year but I've already put it in my diary for next year (23rd November - 1st December). Almost all the leaves have gone from the trees now and I think we can definitely say we're moving deep into the winter months but we shouldn't forget all about trees just because we've passed national tree week.
Even without all the leaves trees are still full of life whether it's the dormant trees themselves of the life that they support. I took this picture a few weeks ago of a tree just outside the hide at RSPB Bowling Green Marsh. It's covered with ivy, lichens and was full of singing birds (although none stayed long enough to be photographed!). I bet if I had looked closer I would have found insects among the branches and maybe other animals like foxes, owls and deer use the tree at other times too. And that's just one tree in December. Just think how full of life that tree is throughout the year, and then how many other trees are just as full of life all around it. When I think of rainforests I see them brimming with thousands of creatures and lives. It's easy to forget that the trees here in the UK are also beacons of vitality and life.
With only 15 days to go (hasn't it gone fast!) it's also time to start thinking about Christmas trees too. As with most things festive this can be a bit of an environmental minefield. The best thing to do is reuse, if you already have a plastic tree keep using it, if you had a tree in a pot last year bring it back inside. I doubt anyone has done "reusing the Christmas tree" as well as this family though, who are still using a tree bought in 1886! Very impressive. If you're looking at buying a new tree this year aim for real rather than plastic. The real trees will only emit the amount of carbon they have absorbed in their lifetime plus the cost of transport, while plastic trees have a much higher carbon footprint and still have the cost of transport. The very best option is a real Christmas tree that can be put out into the garden for the rest of the year, and reused again and again. For some tips on how to pick the best real Christmas tree, how to pot it and keep it evergreen for years to come have a listen to Gardener's Question Time which has a great article on the subject. Of course there is the option of no tree (a shocking idea I know). Personally I would be devastated to spend a Christmas without greenery in the house but this year we're moving into our new flat on the 18th and heading back to family for the festive period on the 21st so we've decided not to get a tree for the house in Exeter as it just seems a waste of trees and time for three days. I'm sure I can manage for three days without one and then pile my enthusiasm for chaotic decorating into the family tree later.
As well as the article in Gardener's Question Time there have been quite a few other tree related programs on Radio 4 lately. So if you fancy loosing yourself in the forests without leaving the house why not listen to the special tree edition of Poetry Please or The Secret Power of Trees.
How are you celebrating trees this winter?