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Beech trees

Planting a large young beech (20 feet tall) in root-and-rock infested ground proved arduous today.

But what a Capability Brown thrill to see how the beech immediately changed the landscape, as if a young hero had come on stage.

Hugh Johnson, who writes splashingly about wine, wrote our favourite book on trees. He is full of interesting and useful information (for instance, the 'Buck' of Buckingham in fact means beech), and lyrical flourishes:

"You could argue that the beech is best in early winter Its leaves turn sometimes to the colour of burnt butter, sometimes to the clear coppery red of a fox's brush, before they fall But one in ten of those on young trees hangs on to the lower branches up to eight or nine feet from the ground. Between the red drifts on the ground and the red spume in the air (and dare I mention the azure firmament behind?), the silver shaft is dazzling."

An inspiration, we think, for the nave of Winchester Cathedral, where shafts of stone rise sunlit into the air, reminiscent of a grove of beech trees, perhaps those on St Catherine's Hill, which overlook the cathedral.

We must have mentioned Hugh before.


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