The Lone Oak is showing its age; it has dead and dying branches and parts of the trunk are being hollowed out by fungus. We have decided that it should be allowed to get on with being several hundred years old, providing habitat for a whole new spectrum of species; we are not going to interfere. Instead, we have fenced around the tree to keep our park users safe.
The alternative would be to chop bits of it off, in order to protect the picnicking public from falling branches. This summer it became quite the thing to picnic under the Lone Oak, a tribute to its elder status.
The tree will live a long time yet; the fence will mellow, warp, acquire its own little ecology, rot away and be replaced long before the tree is done. An ageing oak tree is a wonderful resource of nesting holes, rotting wood for beetle larvae and a hundred species of fungi, a prop for climbing plants, a garden of mosses and ferns.
With luck, the Lone Oak will stand in Cornfield for centuries to come.
Pictures by DKG