Northern Ireland

What do yew think makes a winning tree?

The Holm Oak, Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor, County Down Image copyright Photo: M Cooper/Woodland Trust
Image caption The 'bendy' tree - The Holm Oak, Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor, County Down

It's the time of year when many people are decorating Christmas trees.

But what gives a tree star quality?

Is it trunk size, moss per square foot, age, ease of climbing, or number of nobbles?

Whatever the criteria it would appear The Holm Oak, Kilbroney Park has that certain je ne sais quoi.

Dubbed 'Old Homer' this leafy leaning Rostrevor lovely has been crowned Northern Ireland 'Tree of the Year', proving even if you're a bit wonky, you can still be beautiful.

Musician Tommy Sands was in no doubt it was deserving of the title:

"My vote goes for the bendy tree that may be bent but not broken. It was, for many years, the tree that we gathered under during the festival for children's concerts, and will be again," he said.

Would it be your winning tree or do you prefer some of the woody runners up?

Lets look at some of the other contenders - all of whom, were of course graceful in defeat.

King George VI Coronation Tree, Abbey Street, Bangor, County Down

Image copyright Photo: M Cooper/Woodland Trust
Image caption By Royal Assent: King George Coronation tree

A tree with a royal connection - This is one of 16 trees planted in 1937 to commemorate the coronation of King George VI.

When it learns it hasn't won the judges will be hanged for tree-son.

The Wesley Beeches, Lambeg, Lisburn, County Antrim

Image copyright M Cooper/WTM
Image caption Religious overtones: The Wesley Beeches, Lambeg, Lisburn, County Antrim.

To the best of our knowledge this is the only tree with a religious denomination.

In 1787 Rev John Wesley "twisted two beech saplings together to symbolise the connection between the Church of England and the new Methodist movement.

Those beech saplings grew into a tree with two trunks joining to form a contorted arch and then separating again into two great limbs."

A stunning tree in every way - just don't mention Calvinism around it.

The Belvoir Oak, Belvoir Park Forest, Belfast.

Image copyright Photo: M Cooper/WTML
Image caption Old timer - The Belvoir Oak, Belvoir Park Forest, Belfast

No longer a little acorn - The Woodland Trust said this mighty Oak is estimated to be 500 years old and, as such, is possibly the oldest oak in Northern Ireland.

It has a completely hollow trunk, and a girth of eight metres.

Probably in the last stages of its life, it still provides life to others.

The Picnic Tree, Cloughbane Farm, Pomeroy, County Tyrone

Image copyright Photo: M Cooper/WTML
Image caption Keep it in the family - The Robinson family with The Picnic Tree, Cloughbane Farm, Pomeroy, County Tyrone

Proving that size isn't everything, The Picnic Tree has been part of Cloughbane Farm for five generations.

Grandparents have watched grandchildren play and climb this tree.

It is a tree of magical folklore.

Legend has it it is home to the fairies!

The Great Ardmore Altar Oak, Ardmore, Derry/Londonderry

Image copyright Michael Cooper/Woodland Trust
Image caption The Great Ardmore Altar Oak, Ardmore, Derry/Londonderry

This great oak stands in, what is known locally as, the Birch Wood.

Sitting by the banks of the beautiful River Faughan, it has seen centuries come and go, witnessing changes in the landscape and in the fortunes of local people.

What next?

Now that Old Homer has smashed the competition in Northern Ireland he has his sights set on international fame - he will compete against trees from all over the Continent for the title of European Tree of the Year.

Good luck Homer - we're all behind yew!

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