When the world hears a tree fall, does it matter?
A 300 year old Sycamore Maple tree was maliciously felled in northern England. Its death was heard round the world.
The tree snuggled up against Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland National Park had become the most-photographed tree in England. Its solitary stance at the bottom of a gap between two barren rocky, grass covered hills became recognizable to most of us, from the movie Robin Hood when Kevin Costner first fights off the Sheriff of Nottingham’s men as a wayward boy hides in the branches.
This week as I looked through the gazillion pictures of the Sycamore Gap online, I was struck by the fact that no other trees were in sight.
It was the last tree standing.
Whether it was planted by a previous landowner or was the remaining example of a once larger stand of trees is not known. But, its singularity makes its demise more poignant.
Side note: This European Sycamore maple is a different species – Acer pseudoplatanus- than our American Sycamore, Platanus occidentalis.
The American Sycamore that we planted in our garden here at Crazy 8 Barn & Garden was only a whip in 2013. Today it stands over 20 feet tall. Its white grey bark peels and pops in muted sage tones giving it the common name of Buttonwood. It leaves are the shape of huge maple leaves. And its Latin name is given to the maple tree with the largest leaves – Acer platanoides – also commonly known as the Norway Maple.
Each fall, the Sycamore leaves drop onto the pathways creating a colourful blanket. I rake them into the garden and they create a wonderful dense mulch, replenishing the garden soil and fighting back next Spring’s weeds.
While the world aches for the loss of a single, much-loved tree in England, I hope we take a moment to transform that energy into public policy and personal effort to plant and protect more trees.
When the world hears a tree fall, it does matter.