I still look for the horse chestnut tree I wrote about here each time I pass the spot, and am still surprised to find it not there.
I am happy to say, though, that the tree may be down but not out. The shoulder-high stump has developed a ring of new, leafy shoots, like a crown circling an old royal head.
Pollarding has been used to manage trees since Roman times, producing young growth for animal fodder (differing from the coppicing we see more often in this part of Kent, in that the soft shoots stayed out of the reach of browsing livestock until they were ready to be cut), straight poles for building, and trees which were familiar way- and boundary-markers.
In Plaxtol, the most familiar pollarding is of lime trees, particularly those of ‘Peckham Walk’ (shown above). Reducing the crowns in this way makes these old and respected trees more resilient to future wind damage.
It’s a method to which horse chestnuts respond well.
Perhaps in another 100 years there will be a handsome pollarded tree, standing for another generation to venerate and enjoy.
© New Moons For Old 2016
- Peckham Walk (header image) © New Moons For Old 2016
- A marker chestnut, Kent © Woodland Investment Management Ltd 2016
- An ancient pollarded beech tree, Epping Forest by Jynto, public domain.