In our family we all have our own trees: my mother planted an apple tree in our garden, my father planted a Cedar of Lebanon to replace one that had come down in the storm of 1987 and Jonathan, my brother, chose to plant a slow growing native oak.
We live in a cottage on the edge of a small parkland called Brockwood Park. One of my favourite spots is called the Grove; recently I have planted a little sapling in that special place. It is a redwood – also known in England as a Wellingtonia. The scientific name for it is Sequoiadendron Giganteum – so I prefer to call it a giant sequoia.
[Fun fact: the word sequoia contains all five vowels – aeiou]
Giant sequoias are truly amazing. From a small seed that weighs a fraction of a gramme, adults trees can weigh up to 700 tons. The biggest tree in the world is a sequoia and is 84m tall and 24m in circumference. In fact, they may be the largest living things on the planet. Also, in their native California they can live extremely long, the oldest on record is 3500 years old (imagine counting 3500 growth rings) and some say they can live a lot longer. They were only introduced in Europe in 1853 and it is hard to know how big and how long they can live outside of their native habitat. In Britain the largest specimen is 50m tall and 10m in circumference.
Finally, sequoias grow quite fast (up to 60cm a year) and there is something quite exciting about that. It is a great way to lock up CO2 (my father calls it ‘the sequoia sequester effect’). A sequoia can absorb as much as 3½ tons of carbon a year – which is more than half of my yearly carbon footprint.
My little giant is in good company. It is surrounded by other sequoias some are 30 years old like the one above that I Iove climbing, others are more than 150 years old and look majestic.
One day, someone may stand at the base of my tree wondering who planted that giant.