I visited Joe Porter from Glendale, and Angus Francis from Hi Line this week. Joe was working just south of Bristol, dismantling a problem sycamore over a public footpath. Really nice to see Joe putting his skills into action in the workplace, and to see how much he enjoys his job!
Angus was cutting back trees from some 11kV Power lines to ensure they won’t trouble the lines for at least another 5 years. Working near lines is a carefully controlled exercise, and Angus has worked hard to achieve all the certificates required to do this work safely. It is quite amazing how people’s skills improve over just 18 months!
More late sessions for the apprentices this week, as they complete the last of their functional skills tests and put the finishing touches to their portfolios. Congratulations are in order for Jaraed Goldsmith and Connor Nicholls, both of whom have completed all the work they need for their qualification….
Focus on………. Ginkgo biloba
The tree itself, is completely unique, it is the survivor of a much larger group of trees that evolved before the dinosaurs, and all the others have since become extinct. So there is nothing else quite like a Ginkgo.
When originally rediscovered by the west, it was only found as specimens in and around temples of Korea, China and Japan, countries in which it is much revered, and where there are some very old trees indeed- some are considered to be between 2000 and 3000 years old. Recently, however, some discoveries suggest that there are some relict wild populations, living in some very remote parts of China.
The tree has several unusual characteristics. It is mostly monoecious, which means male and female reproductive parts occur on different trees, but there are records of parts of trees sometimes spontaneously turning into the opposite sex!
It is very resistant to disease and damage, probably a result of millions of years of abuse by dinosaurs, asteroids and people! The extreme survival ability of this tree, is perhaps most poignantly demonstrated in Hiroshima, Japan, where six trees very close to the epicentre of the nuclear bomb, survived the blast that killed almost every other living thing around them.
They are still alive today, and for this reason are sometimes called ‘Bearers of Hope’
The tree also retains the swimming sperm of a more primitive plant such as a fern, or cycad. The fruit themselves smell very bad indeed, and this has led to mostly male trees being planted. The seeds and fruit are edible and are prized for their healing properties. There isn’t a health shop in the UK that doesn’t have Ginkgo extracts somewhere on its shelves.
As you can see in the image above right, their autumn colour is truly awe inspiring, a vivid yellow, that is blinding when the sun shines through it….. bearers of hope indeed.
I can’t do justice to this tree in a tiny blog like this, so I strongly recommend the book:
“Ginkgo” by Peter Crane ISBN 978-0-300-18751-9
It is a fascinating exploration of all of things Ginkgo, and it really is a great read.
Many things are said about trees, and many philosophers and writers have produced billions of words on the subject, but to finish this blog here is a particularly though provoking quote from artist and writer Kahlil Gibran:
“Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness”