Daniel Greenwood has taken a special interest in the wonderful old boundary oak trees in Dulwich Park. They are remnants of the old Dulwich Common and Daniel generously agreed to give a guided walk of Dulwich Park for members of the Society, with particular emphasis on these veteran trees. This took place one Saturday in October. Daniel took us on a tour of all these old oaks, about 10 trees, examining each one individually. It was amazing how much he was able to tell us about each tree.
English oaks (quercus robur) are said to grow for 300 years, stabilise for 300 years, then slowly decline for 300 years and Daniel was able to differentiate between signs that the tree was under stress and features which were part of the natural ageing process. Several had lost limbs, but Daniel assured us that this was quite normal for a tree of their age (mostly 250-350 years old, with some over 400 years old) and that they should recover well. Apparently oak trees restructure themselves to balance - they actually change shape, increasing their girth and becoming shorter and this can clearly be seen in the oak tree by the toilet block near the cafe. Daniel measured some of the trees and estimated this one to be the oldest of all, at over 500 years.
Daniel was pleased with the way Southwark Council are managing these trees, but he was concerned to notice that one of the trees (300-400 years old) by the lake, is displaying damage to the bark at the base, so will discuss with our new Park manager, Will Walpole, whether this tree should be fenced for protection.
The walk was well attended and although we looked at other trees as well, Daniel was most enthusiastic about these old, veteran and ancient (i.e.over 400 years old) oaks - he considers some of them to be among the most important trees in the borough.
Daniel is a most interesting guide and is the London Wildlife Trust warden for Sydenham Hill Woods and a member of the Dulwich Society Wildlife Committee. The walk was free of charge to the public and a donation was made by the Society to LWT.
Glynis Williams, Trees sub-committee
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