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24 September 2014

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You are in: Devon > Autumnwatch > Celebrating Devon's trees

Trees in Doone Valley, Exmoor

Trees in Doone Valley on Exmoor

Celebrating Devon's trees

As part of the BBC's 2007 Autumnwatch series, BBC Devon takes a look at trees...and what they mean to us.

Try and visualise the glorious Devon landscape without trees. They add such beauty and attraction to many of the views that already take the eye.

Throughout the year they change, adding value to the starkness of winter, the reawakening in spring, the blooming of summer and the mellowness of autumn. They add colour, provide wildlife habitat and absorb carbon dioxide.

Altogether more than 1,500 species of trees grow in Britain. Over five million acres of land are devoted to productive woodlands.

Many of the trees in Devon have long, long histories, being the stately guardians of everything below them.

A tree at Saltram

Saltram Park is home to some fabulous trees

They provide shade from the sun and shelter from the wind and the rain. They supply life-giving oxygen through their leaves; they enrich the soil and provide food; they provide man with one of the most beautiful and useful of construction materials.

Trees can be a significant defence against the effects of carbon dioxide as they derive their energy by absorbing minerals, water and Co2.

Many of the popular tree names describe some characteristic or some use of the plant – crack-willow owes its name to the brittleness of twigs; and the butcher once used the wood of dogwood to make skewers or 'dogs'.

The whorls of a tree stump provide significant historical information counting back from the outer rings to show years of drought or when a fire might have run through the area.

Trees can be identified in any number of ways; the leaf, the fruit or seed, the twig, the bark, and the overall shape of the tree. Probably most of us can identify five or six trees by looking at their leaves.

The attraction of trees can be enjoyed right across the county. Here are just three locations where trees ancient and modern can be enjoyed.

Tree in Plymouth

A tree in a Plymouth park

The South West Forest covers a large part of Devon measuring 300,000 hectares and is bounded by Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor and Exmoor. It is an independent, non-commercial partnership, hosted by Devon County Council.

Bicton Gardens in East Devon have a pinetum set in a largely hallow valley, backing on to a tree-fringed lake. Running as straight as a ruler to the north, is an avenue with 500 yards of Chile pine trees that were planted in the early 1800s.

The Chile pine is better known as the monkey puzzle tree. There are more than 500 species of trees in the gardens.

Exeter University grounds extends to 300 acres and across the hillside contain a wide range of trees and plants from across the world.

Veitch, the local horticultural firm of the time, laid out the area in the 1860s, but the site was almost derelict when the university acquired the land in 1922.


Apples at Buckland Monachorum community orchard

Many of the original plantings were still standing, and today the specimens include cypresses, junipers, maples, firs, chestnuts, birches, pines, beeches, ashes, oaks and willows.

As part of the BBC's Autumnwatch series, BBC Devon is celebrating the county's trees.

We're taking a look at the resurgence of Devon orchards with local varieties of apple; we meet a woman in West Devon who is known as The Apple Lady; and we speak to Alan Lee, the Dartmoor-based artist whose drawings inspired the images in the Lord of the Rings movies - including the fantastic Treebeard.

There will also be advice from experts on which trees to plant, and where and when the planting should take place.

We also want to hear from you. We are compiling a gallery of readers' favourite trees - it could be one you've nurtured in your garden, or a tree which holds a special memory for you.

last updated: 03/12/07

You are in: Devon > Autumnwatch > Celebrating Devon's trees

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