Monday, 7 July 2008


I enjoy the company of trees.

There. I have said it out loud (so to speak, well typed it, with a few clicky-clacky taps on the keyboard, anyway.) Trees never argue with you, even when you are wrong. They listen attentively as you mull things over on a walk through their midst. They give you shelter from the wind and rain. They are benign entities.

Our home is surrounded by some quite large examples of the species and protect us from the prevailing winds.

The thing is though, is that one of them is leaning a little bit too close for comfort, right over the house and I am sure that the lean is getting more 'leany' with each year we have lived here.

Standing in my garden looking at Trevor (the leaning tree), I tried to understand what was going on. Trevor must be well over a hundred years old and is quite an impressive gent; he is definitely not a girl. In his recent past he has lost an arm or two in some great gales, but he still stands there, impassively but in a sort of threatening way. He is leaning over my bedroom. The roof is made of old Norfolk Reeds and 450 year old roof timbers that are as hard as iron. But if Trevor decides one day that he is ready to call time on his tenure of my garden, then I fear that he will smash right through the roof , down through the wattle and daub and perhaps into the sitting room.

So where did Trevor come from in the first place? I am not a botanist but I am puzzled by Trevor, and all his friends and relations, even the smallest of all!

He must have started as a seed, perhaps getting trampled into the ground by a passing cow, and sat there and started to grow. Now I reckon that Trevor must weigh at least ten tons. That is incredibly heavy. Now okay - lets say he is 70% water. That means he is 30% something that is not water.

So where did that 30% come from? It can only have come from the soil - so does that mean the soil under the tree - from around it's roots - is now 3 tons lighter? Is that why my tree is leaning? Is Trevor undermining himself? Is this some mad form of tree suicide?

Crackerjack pencils for the correct answers and cabbages to those with the wrong answers.

I shall go now and talk to Trevor, to see if I can cheer him up. "Straighten up man!" That should do it. "There's a good chap." The consequences of him leaning any further don't bare thinking about.


  1. So where did that 30% come from? It can only have come from the soil...

    Nah. It comes from the air. Gaseous CO2 gets processed into all sorts of solid carbon compounds, typically cellulose (C6H10O5)n, hemicellulose (a polysaccharide related to cellulose) and lignin (a large, cross-linked, racemic macromolecule). Very little of a tree is taken from the ground.

    Amazing, really.

  2. Here you go:



  3. As for the reason for your Trevor's lean, I reckon it's due to the influence of alcohol, just like in humans. Do you habitually pee up one side of him, thus supplying his roots with passive alcohol?

  4. "... but in a sort of threatening way. He is leaning over my bedroom...."

    Do you have a WOOD burning stove by any chance? Ents don't like that sort of thing. Remember what happened to Saruman.

  5. Not guilty on the 'peeing against the side of Trevor' front, but 'Guilty as charged, m'lud' on the wood-burner!

    Saruman had it coming, anyway!


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