One of the most venerated of our trees, otherwise known as the pedunculate oak. This one stands guard over the nearest water standpipe to my plot and also the subject of my recent ABC Wednesday 'N' posting. I often go and sit under its stately branches on a hot summer's day when it's time for a break from my hard labours. It also causes me great amusement during the Autumn when its many acorns rain down on our allotment loo. As this is a 'tin box', the noise can be quite something until you get used to it!
It's one of two native oak species, the other is the sessile oak (Quercus petraea). It grows to over 100 feet - so is not a good choice for most of our gardens! Our allotments were once part of a country house estate, so I suspect it's part of the original landscape planting. It's magnificent size suggests it's pretty old anyway. They can live for up to 1000 years, can host up to 423 insect species and is said to be an indicator of better soils. Certainly the sessile oaks I've seen have been in poorer soil upland regions, such as Snowdonia National Park.
The use of its timber for building has made a comeback in recent years, thanks to programmes such as Grand Designs which has featured some magnificant oak framed buildings. It's an extremely tough, hard wearing wood - lasting for many centuries if well cared for. Lord Nelson ordered many trees to be planted across England so the nation would never be short of a good timber supply for ship building. Little did he know that iron would soon replace oak as the material of choice.
Finally, it's also part of our weather lore:
If the oak comes before the ash, then we'll only have a splash.
If the ash comes before the oak, then we'll surely have a soak.
If this is true, then we're due for a good summer in this area as the oak unfurled its leaves first this year. However, our weather forecasters who use more scientific methods disagree!
ABC Wednesday is bought to you courtesy of Mrs Nesbitt's Place.