Stories have always grown on trees. Artists are drawn to their intricacies. Woods are rooted in memories, but it’s the leaf mould of tales told that nourishes future growth. The poetry of trees is always living, for every older work sends out new shoots. We grow attached to trees in books and learn to look for them in life. We feel connected to trees we know and love to see them painted well. Celebrate Tree Charter Day each year to strengthen this cultural legacy and help our living traditions thrive.
"Trees are ringed with myths and histories, growing thicker as the years go by. The leaves of books, the walls of galleries are filled with images taken freely from living branches. What would our cultural history be like without trees?"
Fiona Stafford, professor of English literature and author
"Woods and trees are cultural treasures; given to us by nature, they play a huge role in our heritage and artistic expression – providing inspiration, and a backdrop for our most well-loved stories. They make poetry without using words, they deserve to be loved, they deserve to be celebrated and looked after for future generations."
Benjamin Zephaniah, poet and lecturer
"I have spent a lifetime observing and drawing trees, from the distant wind blasted Hawthorn to the intricacies of a piece of bark; their resilience and beauty never ceases to excite me."
Image: Alan Tigwell
"I shudder to think what a world without trees would look like. I know it is a world I would not want to live in! Trees tell stories to those who want to look and listen and they frame the seasons that form the background to all our lives. Young or old, small or large, they are stunningly beautiful, each in their own way, and are among the most precious and treasured things in my life. They have the power to amaze and to inspire me; they can soothe my pain and melt my stresses away. In a word: trees are awesome!"
Image: Susie Reynolds
"Trees are our connection to something bigger than our lives alone. Trees hold so much importance to our lives - in their role in climate control, the stories and folklore created with them, the wildlife they home and sustain, the material that can build and warm our houses… We need to connect deeply with our trees is essential for our future."
"Trees bring us clean air, restfulness, a natural wind instrument. They give wildlife a home, food, shelter, a lookout spot. We climb them, play in them, hide in them. They give us oxygen, fuel, shelter, a global cooling system, materials for our homes, stable land, noise shields. They are an essential element of our natural heritage, one we cannot do without physically, materially or spiritually. We need trees – and they need us, now – to conserve them and ensure they remain in our land forever."
Image: E. Cox
"In our early twenties my then boyfriend and I spent a happy time collecting acorns from the avenue of oaks at Kew, putting them into carefully labelled envelopes, taking them back to his home in Essex and planting them in a field. Only one grew. We parted company so the little oak tree went to Hampshire with my former boyfriend and his wife. Ten years later, when my marriage had failed and his was unhappy, he and I came together again. The oak tree came too – about 10 feet tall at the time – and was replanted in our London garden. It is now over 40 feet tall and a wonderful memorial to my lovely husband who died two years ago. I also had two trees planted for my parents when they died and for my in-laws. What better way to remember folk?"
"I have even planted two small trees in my back yard and it has improved the feeling of the space so much. We have managed to encourage the birds to come and feed on our bird feeders and it lifts my spirits to see them. The powers that we need to realise, how much seeing some green around our homes improves daily life. And I will always do my bit to help nature of all kinds, wherever and whenever I can."
Image: Sally Thomas
"The breath of them, those solid beasts. Warm damp earth smell. Holding children in their childhood, a happy oblivion of time ticked. A place of dens and secrets hidden in folds and crevices. The space taken in a squashed world. The spread of branches and hidden roots. The forgiveness and compliance in our frantic lives, taking our pollution and bile and returning it to benign, rich air and soft, clear water. A moment of dance, sway and sound, the rush and roar of wind through leaves and branches. They only give and give in exchange for space, light and soil. Without them we are truly, completely and endlessly lost."
Image: Sarah Autie