The invisible giant
In 2016’s competition, one of the runners-up was the Craigends yew in Renfrewshire. The yew was nominated by ancient tree hunter, Judy Dowling and also had a local champion in nearby resident, Janet Mason.
Janet was not concerned about winning, only raising the profile of the tree in the local area. For one thing it was difficult for people to find. For another it was not terribly well respected by those who did find it, with scorch wounds from fires set by vandals over the years.
When the tree was named as a finalist, a local paper sent out a photographer and some local children were recruited to give it a hug for good luck in the competition. The story and picture duly appeared – but unfortunately they focused on a very impressive cedar tree growing just yards from the yew. Everyone had assumed the more visible cedar must be the candidate!
This was despite the Craigends yew measuring 100m round the crown and 8.29m around the main trunk. The tree is in its second layering with branches hitting the ground and taking root. It is extraordinary to think that such a massive tree should be so hard to find, even for local people.
Thanks to taking part in Tree of the Year, that has all changed. Its location is now signposted from the main road, and an interpretive board will be installed beside the tree thanks to a Care Award from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Seeing this investment, the local community council also then paid to remove a sycamore that was growing up within the yew’s layers.
Janet is delighted!