We tend to think of nature as being gentle and nurturing, but sometimes it can be cruel and destructive. In our ‘Extreme Weather Series’ we investigate the damage that can be caused to or by your trees, even here in Britain, when nature is at its most dangerous.
We may be past the typical snowy months, but you never know – in 1975 a game of cricket between Derbyshire and Lancashire in Buxton was interrupted by snowfall in June. With global warming and climate change making the weather all the more unpredictable, we never know what’s just around the corner, and while a part of us might romanticise branches dusted with snow, trees aren’t nearly as hardy as you might think they are. It can actually be quite dangerous to have limbs groaning under the weight of freshly fallen snow.
When I was a boy we had a giant oak tree at our school. Of course, we were not allowed to climb it, but – boys being boys – that didn’t stop us. Then one day, during a particularly heavy storm, it was struck by lightning. For hundreds of years that tree had grown quietly to become taller than any building in the school, but in an instant that was over and what was left was a mass of blackened, splintered timber. When we got to school the next day it looked like a bomb had gone off in the tree – there were chunks strewn like confetti and a massive hole down the centre where the lightning had literally split the tree in two. But why had that tree been hit when there were others around, and why not the building next to it, or the steeple of the chapel over the road? This article looks at lightning, and how to protect your trees from its devastating effects.
It’s hotting up… the skies are blue with hardly a wisp of cloud to be seen, and the forecasters are telling us it’s going to be a heatwave. While the natural reaction to this may be to don your shorts, scoop buckets, spades and the kids into the car for a 10-hour drive to the coast to binge on fish ’n’ chips and 99s, spare a thought for the trees in your garden. The warm British summer may often be fleeting, but the heat and the drought it causes can be a killer if you don’t look after your garden’s shade-givers.