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Do Trees Tell Tales? - Ada Tree, Australia - Holy Thorn, England

Updated on August 4, 2014
Ada Tree - still standing, around 300 years old and much admired
Ada Tree - still standing, around 300 years old and much admired | Source

A Tale of Two Trees

Here's the story before the Ada tree was found.

Question: What happens when you introduce a crosscut saw to the world’s tallest tree?

Answer: you get the world’s longest log.

I know. It’s a very flippant answer but it’s true. The year is 1884, the place is Thorpdale, in Victoria Australia. Here two men used a very accurate method of measuring the height of a tree. Once you cut it down you can measure it.

Sadly, all that remains of this splendid tree is a sign marking the spot where the giant gum tree once grew.

There’s also a plaque acknowledging it was 375 feet, or 114.3 metres tall before the couple of farmers attacked it.


Why Cut them down?

Other great trees in Victoria have met a similar fate; some still lie ruined on the forest floor after loggers found they were rotting in the heart.

Old-time timber-getters working with crosscut saws wouldn't have ripped down trees this size and left them to rot. Too much like hard work. But with power saws the easiest way to find out whether a tree is sound or rotten is to cut it down.

Enter Mr Werner Marschalek “No reason to cut them down,” he says. “They would probably have stood for another hundred years or so.

Mr Marschalek, who used to roam the Victorian high country in search of gemstones, found a living treasure more than 30 years ago at a time when logging was virtually open slather. Here it is.

The Magnificent Ada tree.

The Ada Tree
The Ada Tree | Source

The Ada tree.


This huge giant mountain ash tree, around 300 years old and about 76 metres tall still stands near the headwaters of the Ada River between Powelltown and Noojee, and Marschalek named it the Ada Tree.

Perhaps only its phenomenal girth 15.7 metres at shoulder height – saved it from felling in those early days.

Put it this way - the Ada Tree is one of the biggest living things on earth. A few Californian redwoods might be marginally taller – the General Sherman and others top it by a few metres – but they are softwoods; unlike the Australian rock-hard eucalyptus regnans.

The General Sherman is also much older - around 2000 – 3000 years old. And there are many claims of older, larger trees, but the Ada tree is definitely up there with them.

Currently the big tree is about 76 metres high, according to the Department of Sustainability and Environment, which protects it. But its top has been blown away and in its prime may have reached 120 metres.

Rumours abound of 100-metre tree monsters in the wilderness areas of Melbourne’s water catchment, off limits to the public.

The Wallaby Creek section of the Kinglake National Park is said to have a few trees considerably taller than the Ada, but no proven evidence to date.

The Ada Tree Walk

The Ada Tree is now secure from logging, with the closest permitted coupes about 400 metres away. It also has stands in the Ada Tall Trees Reserve, which is a no-logging reserve.

Its preservation is in no small part due to Mr Marschalek and a handful of co-workers who laboured long and hard to win government approval and blazed a trail through the ancient myrtle beech, sassafras and soft tree fern forest to give public access.

This is known as the Island Creek rainforest walk; a fascinating 1.5 km trail.

The paths were built with the assistance of volunteer workers from the former Won Wron prison at nearby Yarram.

Several metal bridges span the little creeks and interpretive signs describe the flora and fauna. An alternative trail is suitable for wheelchairs.

A boardwalk now runs around the buttresses of the tree, protecting tiny root capillaries from damage caused by thousands of sightseers’ boots.

If only they’d been so environmentally conscious at Thorpdale back in 1884 when the perhaps the world’s tallest tree was cut down to be measured.

How to find the Ada treee in Victoria Australia.

  • · From Powelltown follow signs for Starlings Gap, then to the Ada Tree Reserve. The Ada Tree Reserve has toilets and excellent picnic facilities.

Another Day - Another Tree.

Glastonbury Holy Thorn -
Glastonbury Holy Thorn - | Source


In 2010, murder most foul was attempted in one of England’s hottest tourist spots. Such was the shock locals were comparing it to the mourning of the death of Princess Diana.

I’m referring to the hacking of a tree with significant historical and religious connections known as the - Glastonbury Holy Thorn.

The tree was a well documented and a recognisable feature of the landscape in this Somerset town, deep in rural western England.

Its religious roots are said to go back 2000 years; after the desecration it was just a severed stump

Legend

The gnarled thorn tree has been a tourist must-see for centuries, together with the alleged graves of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere and the mystical Glastonbury Tor towering over the picture-postcard town.

According to legend, after the crucifixion of Christ, his uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, travelled to Glastonbury, bringing with him the Holy Grail which later entered Arthurian folklore.

Exhausted on arrival, before Joseph succumbed to sleep, he is said to have wedged his wooden staff into the soil on Wearyall Hill. When he awoke it had miraculously flowered into a thorn tree.

Appropriately, it became a place of pilgrimage for Christians across Europe. The Holy Thorn was not the original tree of course but said to be a cutting of the original.

Glastonbury Tor
Glastonbury Tor | Source

Throughout the Years

The tree, protected only by a small iron railing, bloomed twice a year around Christmas and Easter. Each year a sprig was cut to send to the Queen for her Christmas table, and the 2010 vandalism coincided with this event.

After the destruction the sad remains of the trunk were surrounded by littered branches, covered with coloured ribbons, prayers, offerings and ornaments left by visitors.

Glastonbury is renowned as a spiritual centre – a melting pot of Christian worship, New Age believers, Celtic gods and goddesses, people retracing the steps of Joseph and the Arthurian legend.

It’s a place for travellers, poets, artists, buskers, and is also famous as Glasto, the largest greenfield open air music and arts festival in the world. Glasto attracts a whirl of free spirited followers, of songs, performers, mud and tents.

Despite the diversity, tolerance, and tourism have kept this unusual combination of people in synch. All down the years harmony has prevailed - until now.

Reaction in Glastonbury

At the time the general feeling in the town toward the vandalism of the tree touched hearts. Julia Knight, owner of Apple B&B, described the dismay: ‘We were all genuinely shocked and gutted.

‘The tree was loved equally by all sections of the community. We all just took for granted that the tree would be there forever, and something like this is a wake-up call.

We realise what wonderful and historical features we have in the town and need to protect them.’

Certainly myth and legends abound in profusion. Glastonbury is known as a power place of forceful energies – but not destructive ones.

And in every shop and every pub the locals agonised about their beloved thorn – a ravaged tree of huge significance and clearly an icon for believers and non-believers alike.

Some said the act of vandalism loomed dark- an omen of a society breaking down; bored individuals up for a bit of aggro on a night out where anything held sacred must be destroyed.

But it has been attacked before – during the civil war Oliver Cromwell’s followers chopped mercilessly.

Sadly, despite all the experts opinions and the constant treatment, the tree did not survive.

However, locals had secreted away cuttings for this eventuality.

However, locals had secreted away cuttings for this eventuality.

April 2012

A new tree was planted and surrounded by a metal cage. It took two weeks before vandals struck again. This replacement tree was cut off about a foot from the ground and didn’t survive.

January 2013

The latest Holy Thorn tree is now planted. You’ll find it by the side of a World Peace Pole close to Glastonbury Abbey.

Several other thorns have been planted in different locations. The hope is that now the Glastonbury story will continue.

Perhaps this is a reminder that the conflict between good and evil on a small or large scale is never ending.

However, residents and supporters around the globe all agree these acts of vandalism will "never destroy what is in people's hearts and hopes".

Do You Have A Favourite Tree with a Story to Tell?

You can read more about Glastonbury at my hub - Glastonbury somerset - the Myth and the Magic continues.

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    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Greeting Grand O Lady - thank you for such positive feed back, most pleased you enjoyed the tree journey. Best wishes...

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 years ago from Philippines

      Such wonderful stories about trees. I'm so glad that they no longer cut them in half, but instead, preserve them. I never knew that there were trees that were 300 years old. And I loved the story of Joseph of Arimathea and the tree that emanated from his staff. Thank you for showing me that so many beautiful legends are associated with trees.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hello again peach purple - yes, it is difficult to understand the desecration of beautiful, historic trees. Thanks for commenting

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      It is a pity that humans are chopping down big good trees

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Greensleeves, thank you for being here, I certainly agree with your sentiments. Yes the Ada tree is being cared for and that's a good thing. It's beautiful and most serene.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 2 years ago from Essex, UK

      Sad stories of the destruction of two trees travmaj - what goes through the mind of people who want to destroy such historic and amazing living things? And often for no reason other than sheer vandalism it seems.

      But good to hear the story of the Ada Tree. Every effort should be made to save such trees for the enjoyment of people for generations to come. Saving them makes the world a better place.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hello Nadine - thank you for commenting on my take on trees - lovely to have you here. I look forward to reading your Knysna tree- I'm travelling at the moment but as soon as I can I'll be reading it. Cheers and best...

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 2 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Wow I'm so glad to have read your great post on big trees. I have a very special memory about visits to our 800 year old Big Tree in Knysna - Eastern Cape. I have posted an hub titled: The Spirit of Tsitsikamma forest

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hello Jo - good to have you here - what a conversation trees would have, looking down on us all. Love the English trees, it's still home especially when I visit in Spring. Best regards...

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      An interesting hub, I knew about the story of Joseph of Arimathea thrusting his staff into Wearyall Hill which grew into a Hawthorne tree, but I didn't realized that the tree had been vandalized, how sad! The ada tree looks amazing, I'd love to see one of the 2000 years old American redwood. If only trees could talk. A wonderful and informative read.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      That's great thanks Maj. If your other piece doesn't get mentioned on my hub,then let me know. Ann

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 3 years ago from australia

      Ann, thank you and I will certainly link this to yours. I've just edited my Glastonbury piece that was not featured - will keep you informed. regards, Maj...

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Have just come back to this and realised it's the one connected to my hub, so I'm taking the link to add as I promised. If you have another, let me know.

      Ann

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 3 years ago from australia

      Hello Ann - yes, I've loved trees since I was little, remembering the oak and horse chestnuts in England. The Ada tree is special so majestic. I hope I get to visit Glastonbury again - fingers crossed. Thank you.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      It's so sad when trees are hacked down for no good reason. Trees like the Ada are such majestic things. I've been in the south of Western Australia and seen the Tingle Trees near Denmark; they are amazing.

      I live close to Glastonbury and know all the spots you mention and show in your photos. It's a great walk up to the Tor as you attain a wonderful panoramic view.

      Great hub. Ann

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 3 years ago from australia

      Phyllis - appreciate your interest and share your love of trees and Glastonbury. So much still to discover! Thank you heaps.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Maj, this is a wonderful hub -- of course, you know I would love it because it is about trees, but, also it is a very well done article and nice formatting. I wrote about Glastonbury, the Tor, the hole thorn and the legends, a long time ago -- I remember how enthused I was about the Glastonbury area and all the legends. Thank you for writing this hub, I enjoyed reading it and experiencing the awe of it again.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 3 years ago from australia

      truthfornow - I firmly agree with all your comments and thank you. Hope to re visit the Ada tree soon, it's a wonderful walk and like seeing an old friend. Thank you.

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      That Ada tree is so huge. The beauty of nature is so amazing. Humans have mowed down so many trees. In some areas, there are no trees, no nature and it is a shame.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 3 years ago from australia

      Lady Guinevere, yes Glastonbury is amazing and there's much of a spiritual nature and the King Arthur legends. . I also wrote about it - a hub - Glastonbury - The Myth and the Magic.Best regards...

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 3 years ago from australia

      MizB - yes, I agree with all your comments re trees. I'll be in the area of the Ada tree very soon so I hope to take some more photos. It's so serene and strangely beautiful. So sad about the Holy thorn, so much effort trying to save it, all in vain. Best wishes...

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 3 years ago from West By God

      I have heard of that thorn tree being relative to the King Arthur Legends. I have a bubble post about that on Bubblews.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 3 years ago

      I’m so glad that Mr Marschalek was able to save the Ada Tree. Your photo shows that it is astounding. Our trees are not only precious resources, but they are old souls that should not be attacked, not even out of ignorance. We did lose most of our redwoods in the USA to this. It became fashionable to clad mid-century modern homes in redwood siding, so we lost many to home builders.

      It is such a shame about the killing of the Glastonbury thorn. I agree with you that this is a part of the war between good and evil. Voted up+++

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 3 years ago from australia

      Hello BlossomSB - Thank you for your comments, yes, what would we do without trees? It's unimaginable. I'm not familiar with the Antarctic Beeches but intend to read your hub. Thanks again...

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 3 years ago from australia

      Mel - thank you for stopping by I agree wholeheartedly with your comments. I haven't seen the General Sherman tree - maybe one day. Saw the Ada tree again recently as stunning as ever.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Thank you for writing such an interesting and informative hub. Where would we be without trees? One of my favourites is the stand of Antarctic Beeches in the Gold Coast Hinterland. I wrote a hub about them, 'Antarctic Beeches, Springbrook National Park'. Have you been there? It's well worth a visit.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      The nonsensical destruction by men never ceases to appall me. I love trees of all kinds in an almost mystical way. I have seen the General Sherman tree and it is magnificent. Your Ada tree must be impressive. The nut who destroyed the thorn tree should be strung up from one. Great hub!

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Sueswan - hello and thank you for such positive comments and votes - yes, I agree entirely and it's comforting to know the Ada tree stands safe and tall .

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Hi again Rosemay - I really appreciate your comments - I'm with you on all counts. Best wishes...

    • profile image

      Sueswan 4 years ago

      I love trees. Thank God for people like Mr Marschalek and the others who prevented the logging industry from destroying the majestic Ada Tree.

      Voted up +++ and sharing

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      I will never understand these acts of vandalism especially against a tree that has stood for centuries. It is an awesome story though that the villagers kept cuttings of the tree so it will continue to survive despite the vandals. Good will always win over evil.

      Awesome hub Maj. Thank you for this inetresting read and facts of the Ada tree.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Thank you so much Kay - good to have you visit my two trees. It is a lovely walk to the Ada tree - the Holy Thorn has to survive - no justice if it doesn't I guess. All best wishes..

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      Kay Readdy 4 years ago

      Some interesting facts here - and I love the picture of the Ada Tree. Must try to visit it some time. Here's hoping the Thorn Tree continues to outlive vandals' attempts to destroy it. Fortunately it looks as though British forethought has won out afterall! Regards, Kay.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Hello Valley - so good to hear from you - pleased you enjoyed my couple of trees stories - yes the Ada tree is truly awesome.

      Spring is threatening to arrive through the chilly days - daffodils and wattle blossom welcoming the warmth - although watching the cricket is not helpful to contentment. Cheers Valley

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Thanks Nell - good to hear from you - it is sad when these historic and beautiful trees are destroyed - as I understand it no-one was ever charged over the Glastonbury vandalism. Fingers crossed for the future cuttings...

    • profile image

      Valleypoet 4 years ago

      A fascinating read Maj...good to know that the Ada tree is now protected, what an awesome tree that is!...and what a shameful act of vandalism that was at Glastonbury. I love your hubs Maj, such diverse subjects, and presented wonderfully well. Here's hoping that Spring arrives very soon for you....best wishes from The Valley :-))

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Hi maj, interesting history of the Ada tree, and yes that Glastonbury Thorn! I was so mad when I heard this, as you said, it was back in Cromwells time when it last happened, but these days yobs just have no respect for anything, thank goodness they took cuttings and have planted it again in different locations, just goes to show the sign of the times, sadly.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Hi Michelle - thanks for this - yes, so many trees, so many stories to think about - The Magic Faraway Tree grabbed me years ago!! I'm still obsessed!

      Cheers

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Trees have seen a lot more and would have many stories! Thanks, Travmaj!

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Hi Vellur - thank you for your tree comments and voting - yes, I agree - the Ada tree is a lovely story. Hope you get to visit Australia one day. Regards...

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      It is very sad when trees are cut down without a thought. AM happy that the Ada tree is still alive. Hope to visit Australia someday. A great hub, voted up.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Michelle - thanks once again - glad you approve of my two trees - they just seemed to say so much. All best wishes...

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Janet - thank you for such enthusiastic comments - I really appreciate. I'm glad you enjoy trees too. Best wishes...

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Hello Vickiw - thank you so much for stopping by - yes I agree totally with your comments. At least the Ada tree is still standing and being cared for.Best wishes...

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Trees are one of nature's greatest hallmarks, and the ones photographed here are beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Eddy - thrilled you stopped by and glad you enjoyed -sending warm wishes to you and Wales...

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Hello Blossom SB - I note you are in the wonderful state of Victoria also. Thank you so much for your comments - I agree. so much building around here and goodbye trees. At least the Ada tree is safe - the Holy Thorn - who knows. Thanks again - almost Spring for us! Best wishes

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Colin - I'm thrilled to see you on my pages and to receive such lovely comments. You are such an inspiration. And I thank you very much. I'm returning the compliments to you, Tiffy and Gabriel - from a very chilly Victoria, Australia - although spring is not far away. Best wishes as always...

    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 4 years ago from Georgia country

      Wonderful tales about trees I haven't known before. The Ada tree is a really gigantic tree. It's so sad and cruel to destroy such beauties of nature. Very beautiful hub!

    • profile image

      Vickiw 4 years ago

      Wonderful Hub, and makes me incredibly sad that we have lost so much when we lose trees of this age and size, and significance. How can human beings be so vicious and destructive? I mean, what is it that would make someone say, "wow, isn't that a gorgeous tree. Let's chop it down?' I just don't begin to understand this mentality.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      What a wonderful hub; well presented .written and interesting.

      Voting up for sure.

      Eddy.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      bac2basics - Hello Annie - so good to catch up again. I thought of you recently in Lancashire. Warm and sunny Lancs! So interesting you should mention trees in a storm. When we arrived home from travelling a huge tree blown over in our driveway. So sad. I agree with you- shame on the vandals of the holy thorn - hope some good news next - much cheers Annie...

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      It's lovely to hear that at last some of our wonderful old trees are being preserved. The bush seems to recede every year and it's so sad to think that one day our grandchildren may never have the joy of walking through virgin bush and enjoying our natural surrounding as God made it.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 4 years ago

      It's so nice to see you back in action my friend and this wonderful hub presentation has you returning to your spectacular form in which I have become accustomed to .... with a lovely story about a tree I never knew existed. Always a learning experience when I am lucky enough to arrive on your cherished hub scene to visit my friend and enjoy your latest offering too. I will madly and gladly link and post your new work to my FB page for all to see and read and also send you 3 big Canadian hugs from Colin, Little Miss Tiffy and Mister Gabriel at lake erie time ontario canada 4:38am

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Hi kidscrafts - thank you for being here and your lovely comments - yes, I agree with you, it does seem that trees witness things over the years - holding secrets. Cathedral Grove sounds so majestic - would love to see that - and yes, children do respond to nature when they have the opportunity. Thanks again...

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Hi Lurana - good to hear from you and thank you for stopping by and connecting with a couple of beautiful trees - I'm a great admirer of efforts to preserve them too. These two just fire my imagination - best wishes...

    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 4 years ago from Spain

      Hi Maj.

      Great to see another hub from you. This is very interesting and I can´t believe how huge the Ada tree is, you wouldn´t want one of those springing up in your back garden for sure LOL.

      Bloody vandals, shame the tree they could have been hung up on was the one they cut down ;)

      It´s just amazing the hold tree´s have on non vandals. I was landlady in a pub in Bognor Regis when the hurricane hit the UK and in particular the south coast in 1986 or 87, can´t remember precisely the year now. many many trees were destroyed, just simply ripped up by the roots. I remember my dear hearty and I taking a day off a week after the hurricane and we went for a drive out into the countryside and saw a whole hillside of pine trees destroyed, it looked like a giant box of matches had been spilled on the hillside. It became obvious to us that many of our customers were really upset by the loss of all those trees, a park nearby had been badly hit too and trees of a great age had also been blown down in the storm, we had a charity box and held special events in the pub and collected quite a bit of money which we donated to the forestry fund to help with replanting.

      Tree´s are important to us all, and shame on those low life´s who cut down a tree which meant so much to so many.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Very nice hub, Travmaj! It's a real pity when old trees are cut; they hold so much history in them. When you think of it those trees have been witness to a lot of things over those long years and centuries.

      In the 1980s, our family visited the Cathedral Grove (an ancient Douglas fir ecosystem) on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.The biggest trees are about 800 years old and measure 75 m in height and 9 m in circumference. I liked the idea of showing nature to our children; I think it's an investment in the future to have children aware of the treasures that nature can offer!

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

      Lurana Brown 4 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Very interesting tales of these magnificent, historical trees! I am a tree person myself and am always so happy to hear of any efforts to preserve them (and sad when they are lost). Thank you for this informative piece! ~Lurana