The Woodland Trust’s annual competition awarded Liverpool’s Allerton Oak the title of England’s Tree of the Year, where it won an impressive 34% of votes cast.
Elsewhere, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales each had a Tree of the Year named to represent the respective countries, but it was the Allerton Oak that was selected to go on to represent the UK as a whole in the European Tree of the Year contest, which begins in February 2020.
Taking second place was the Colchester Castle Sycamore, which can be seen growing in a majestic location atop the Essex stronghold; and in third was the Isle of Wight’s mythical-looking Dragon Tree.
The Allerton Oak is well-known and well-loved in Liverpool, where it dominates the landscape in Calderstones Park. Its substantial size and shape, and prominent position in the urban landscape, have left locals speculating as to its history, and the oak has a number of intriguing legends surrounding it.
The tree is marked by a huge, gaping crack in its trunk, which a popular myth attributes to the explosion of a gunpowder ship on the River Mersey in 1864.
An even older legend suggests that, during medieval times, a local court (known as a ‘Hundred Court’) would meet beneath its branches as they did not have a courthouse.
Today the tree’s branches have become so large and heavy that they are supported by metal poles, and a fence surrounds the oak to protect it further.
Liverpool City Council are committed to preserving their city’s historic tree and, in partnership with The Mersey Forest, will secure a new propping mechanism for the branches, with built-in flexibility that adapts as the tree grows.
The Council is investing up to £80,000 in the project, though the value of the tree is estimated at over £500,000.
Recognising the importance of trees in urban environments, Liverpool City Council has committed to planting thousands in the city over the next few years.
“Trees are an important part of the urban landscape, helping to make our towns and cities better places to live,” commented Adam Cormack, Head of Campaigning at the Woodland Trust. “We are keen to increase understanding of their value and promote their protection. We are currently working with partners to help increase tree cover in the city and make Liverpool a greener place to live.”
Main image © Jill Jennings/Woodland Trust