Posted by: Ross Gardner | June 2, 2013

Defining Trees

It might seem like on odd to thing to say of any woodland, but on visiting Staverton Park in Suffolk for the first time I was left with the impression of never before having visited somewhere quite so defined by its trees.  This is clearly a case of stating the blindingly obvious, so perhaps I should explain further.

I am a naturalist often with an eye for the small detail within.  Trees are remarkable plants, but it will often be within the context of them as the basis of the rich and remarkable woodland ecosystem that I find wonder.  At Staverton however, it was all about the trees.  On one hand there is the park proper, a landscape of centuries old oak pollards with a wood-pasture feel and sheets of Bluebell.  The area may have been the site of a deer park in the Middle Ages and a fenced encloses the privately managed portion of the wood, apparently to encourage the local Fallow Deer to roam within its bounds.  On the other side of the fence, as it were, is The Thicks, a wonderfully gloomy wood where the breaks in the canopy blaze with sunlight amid the deep shade.

Oaks in Staverton Park.  Ross Gardner 2013.

Oaks in Staverton Park. Ross Gardner 2013.

There hardly seemed a tree anywhere that one could describe as ‘typical’.  The oaks seemed so exceptionally gnarly, as if the passing of the centuries have actually left a physical mark.  One we found had a girth of some 5 metres.  Even the other trees that grow among the the oaks do so with character to befit their environment.  Massive old Holly trees have sprawled and twisted their way beneath their towering cohorts.  The Rowan might retain some of their elegance, but invariably grow with a lean and slant so as not to look at all out of place.

These woods do have their wider interest – the Speckled Wood in the clearings, Spotted Flycatcher enlivening the treetops and Blackcap bubbling among the thickets – but its trees are fantastic.


  1. Reblogged this on quixotree and commented:
    The glory of an english woodland. I feel a visit coming on. (Thank you, Ross).

    • No problem. It certainly, to me, had a unique feel to it. So opposite to the conifer stands of the adjacent Rendlesham Forest.

      • (When in UK) I live near Hatfield Forest – an absolute gem, even though slightly blighted now by Stansted. If you haven’t been, you must. See also Rackham’s “the last forest”. But strangely – despite living in Essex for 20 years – I have not yet made it to Staverton.

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