March 22, 2021

LP Tree of the Year

In celebration of The International Day of Forests on Sunday 21st March, students, staff and parents voted for their ‘LP Tree of the Year’. The winner, by a comfortable margin, was our beloved Dawn Redwood which stands tall on Grove Field.

The School’s 65-acre site, esteemed as ‘the Park’, is home to a large variety of both evergreen and deciduous foliage, including but not limited to an Arizona Cypress, Dwarf Willow, English Oaks and Apple Trees.

Nevertheless, when asked ‘what is your favourite tree on the Park and why?’, over 160 individuals voiced varied and strong opinions on the hotly contested topic of top trunk.

Spanish Teacher, Pablo Gorostidi Perez, enthused of the inaugural 2021 winner “I like its symmetry, its proportions, its loneliness, its stylised strength, its movement when windy, it is a beautiful, elegant tree. It is a tree that talks to you, if you give yourself time to listen to it: At times it is sad, at times proud, at times exuberant, at times constricted and humble. It welcomes people coming to LP from Shinfield Road.”

Amongst the shortlisted nominees was the favourite of Sustainability Co-Ordinator, Oliver Staines “The Cedar tree, or ‘Winnie the Pooh tree’ by the edge of the Cricket Pitch and Old School, like all the best trees, gives you a proper sense of how small you are and how big the world is. It never fails to give me a proper sense of perspective and makes my day to day worries seem that much smaller. Its bark is multitextured and faceted and its cones are like tightly furled rose blooms turned to wood.”

In a 2020 news article, the BBC reported “People who have access to nature or urban green spaces are much more likely to behave in environmentally friendly ways, a study suggests.”

“Simple initiatives such as reflecting on the nature around you are vital for engaging students and connecting them to their school grounds,” commented Oliver as he spoke about continuing to ensure Leighton Park’s Quaker ethos of sustainability is at the forefront of the Schools values-based education.

 

What the LP community said:

Member of the PSC, Rachel Milhofer, commented “I love [the English Oak outside Townson] as it provides shade, and a great place for students to meet in a socially distanced way, when they were allowed back on the Park in June 2020… Trees have been so much a part of my daughter’s life at LP, so much so that when visiting a prospective university, she said she couldn’t go there as there were no trees! Thank you to the LP trees for being there!”

Boarder, Nuna in Upper Sixth, chose a tree close to home; Reckitt House. She remarked “This tree is very distinct… It resembles a tree yet there’s a hint of mystery that you can only encounter in individuality, falling into an uncanny valley of proportions that halt you for a pondering gander, for its stature is oddly abrupt yet it still stretches wide like a chanterelle. Still while retaining the sense of comfort in its convex canopy (when it’s not winter) and its contribution to the ecosystem as a whole. Even though this tree is small, it’s still significant. Like some of us.”

Jenny Powlesland, Assistant Head & Head of Teaching & Learning reflected “My favourite trees on the Park are the two apple trees that grow outside School House, towards the swimming pool. Perhaps not much to look at right now but they’ll be in full blossom in a month or two, then laden with lovely apples! These became my favourite trees because when I first joined Leighton Park in Autumn 2018, I brought my family in to have a look around the Park.

When we came around the corner, my two little ones spotted these two trees, with so many apples lying around them on the grass, and were ridiculously excited. They spent ages swinging on the tree branches and we collected a whole bag of apples which may have ended up in some homemade cider. Every day, when I come to work, with the woodpeckers drilling away and the seasons in all their glory, I feel lucky to work in such a beautiful place.”

With a joint submission, Lauren and Tisa in Lower Sixth, backed the Arizona Cypress that overlooks the Design Technology workshop “The leaves have a blue tint to them which we both like. Also, it struck us how big the tree was compared to the buildings surrounding it. We appreciate nature more when in an urban setting.”

A favourite amongst students and Head of Year 9, Mark Simmons (a man who has experienced many a change of season on the Park), was the English Oak of School Field.

“The old oak has always been a key feature of the LP landscape. Years ago, it had a full circular bench all around its base and was a popular place for students to sit and chat. With more of the school community passing it regularly every day it would be good to see that bench back in place. This tree is also partly responsible for the name ‘Oakview’ – the winning entry from a competition to find a name for our new dining facility in 2004.”

Mark continued “Having spent so much of my working life outside on the park, this tree and I have a very long-standing relationship. It ‘stands guard’ over the entry and exit point for the fields from the gym area and, as such, we have shared all weather conditions as seasons come and go.”

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