Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The missing dead tree

When we moved into Hazel Cottage one of the things we loved so much about the garden was the number of trees in neighbouring gardens; apple trees, pear trees, hawthorns, seedlings from our hazel tree, a very tall fir tree, and amongst it all, stark leafless dead tree.

Part of the thicket in winter with the dead tree
This little thicket provides a lovely home to the birds we love so much - robins, sparrows, magpies, crows, goldfinches, pigeons and doves, blackbirds, great and blue tits and the seasonal visitors that some and go.  We would often be in the house listening to the birds outside, wandering into the garden only to find large numbers of magpies and crows congregating in the dead tree.  There was a mass meeting once where we counted almost twenty corvids chattering and arguing and flapping about in the dead tree.  The sound was deafening!

Without warning, suddenly this week the dead tree has gone.  Even though all the rest of the trees are there, and the birds still make a racket around us, we felt inexplicably sad at its loss. 

To A Dead Tree by John Clare

Old tree thou art wither'd--I pass'd thee last year,
And the blackbird snug hid in thy branches did sing,
Thy shadow stretch'd dark o'er the grass sprouting near,
And thou wert as green as thy mates of the spring.
How alter'd since then! not a leaf hast thou got,
Thy honours brown round thee that clothed the tree;
The clown passeth by thee and heedeth thee not,
But thou'rt a warm source of reflection for me.

I think, while I view thee and rest on the stile,
Life's bloom is as frail as the leaves thou hast shed;
Like thee I may boast of my honours awhile,
But new springs may blossom, and mine may be fled:
Fond friends may bend o'er the rais'd turf where I'm laid,
And warm recollection the past may look o'er,
And say by my life, as I say by thy shade,
"Last spring he was living, but now he's no more."


  1. I do sympathise. A dead elder has been removed from the garden next door. It was covered in ivy and made a great nesting spot for wrens and blackbirds. We miss it and the cover it gave us from neighbouring houses.

    1. We just hoped it was due to a safety issue rather than people being overly tidy and replacing old trees with concrete and decking... On a positive side, our garden is filled with lots of tiny frogs!