How many people plant an oak tree in their garden? Not enough for sure. They are lovely from the very first and give enormous pleasure as they grow. I say this from experience as recently Hew and I have planted an English oak in our parkland in memory of Leslie. Nothing could be a better symbol of enduring hope and promise for the future.
After the yew, they are the longest living of our native British trees, living up to 1000 years old and no other plant is nearly so good a host to such a quantity or range of wildlife. It is reckoned that an average common oak supports over 280 different insects, 200 different species of caterpillar and over 300 different forms of lichen as well as birds, moths, bats and fungi.
Oaks continue to amaze me. I remember from a very young age seeing fallen acorns under a huge oak tree near my grandparents home and being told by them that this tree had produced all of these acorns and that each one, like the one I had picked up and was holding in my hand, could grow into a magnificent oak tree and be hundreds of years old.
With oaks there continues to be life after death. Ancient oaks are brilliant as deadwood habitat, providing a niche for some specialist invertebrates that are rare and endangered and can only live on ancient oaks.
Our tree will always be affectionately known as Leslie’s oak and like Leslie, will hold a special place in Columbine’s history and our hearts.
As we approach the second anniversary of Leslie’s death, I think of the mighty oak and how it is a symbol of strength and strength of love. I can’t think of a more perfect way to remember her by.