Wales' Tree of the Year 2017 Shortlist
These six trees are the finalists in Wales' Tree of the Year, an annual search for the nation's best loved tree.
Read the incredible stories behind our shortlisted trees and vote for your favourite.
The Fairy House Tree
In the grounds of Treffos Independent School, Llansadwrn, Anglesey
The beautiful Isle of Anglesey is the home of Treffos School and Nursery which is located in a woodland! Perfect for young children. A magical environment where children can forage for acorns, conkers and pine cones; witness the lovely succession of winter and spring flowers: crocuses, snowdrops, bluebells and daffodils and enough rabbits to rival Watership Down and, if they are very lucky, even a red squirrel. It's a place right in the heart of nature which nourishes them emotionally and instills a sense of wonder.
In the midst of the awe-inspiring beech trees stands a modest hazel. At first you could be forgiven for thinking this tree is not special at all but look at the base and you will see a mysterious shelter built by "woodland elves" protected by a leafy canopy. This is the tree that has been nominated - a favourite with children for den building.
The Hollow tree
Gnoll Country Park, Neath Port Talbot
Gnoll Estate Country Park was once owned and lived on by a wealthy industrial family called the Mackworths. Today the Estate has been developed into a country park surrounded by a beautiful 18th Century landscaped garden, open green spaces and wild woodlands. A popular feature is an ancient oak tree that has been completely hollow since at least the 1950s. It has recently been fitted with bars to support the structure. The tree has managed to survive in this condition and each summer produces a full and healthy crop of leaves and acorns.
Generations of children have played imaginatively in this magical, mystical tree. Ask any local grandparent what it means to them and they will tell you of their warm childhood memories of this tree and how their own children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren have played in it too. It is a truly miraculous tree.
The Bleeding Yew
St Brynach’s Church, Nevern, Pembrokeshire
The Church of St Brynach in Nevern has been an important religious site since the 6th century and is steeped in history and legend. A few yards from the church lies a path to an ancient Celtic cross, Croes y Pererinion, or the Pilgrims’ Cross. The path was used by pilgrims on their route to St Davids. And in the churchyard stands an ancient yew tree, the Bleeding Yew. The tree is believed to be around 600 years old and exudes a sticky, red, blood-like fluid. According to local legend, the tree weeps for the crucifixion of Christ. An alternative explanation is that liquid is in fact rainwater, stained red by the tree’s heartwood and then escaping through a convenient hole. Whatever the explanation, the yew along with the church attracts thousands of visitors to this day.
The Pulpit Yew, Nantglyn
The beautiful church of St James in Nantglyn dates back at about 700 years, but in its churchyard stands something even older, a yew tree believed to be around 1,500 years old. The hollowed trunk of this ancient Yew has been converted into an out-door pulpit from which many a sermon has been preached - including one, rumour has it, by the founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley. Local Welsh slate has been used to craft some steps leading to a seat and podium at the top which over-looks the surrounding churchyard. Despite the modifications, The Pulpit Yew remains in excellent health and is a shining - if extreme - example of the recognised association between yew trees and places of worship.
The Giant Redwood of Llangattock
On the banks of the Monmouth and Brecon Canal, near the quiet village of Llangattock stands a towering giant redwood, Sequoiadendron giganteum. It is slightly set back from the footpath alongside the canal and as a result, despite its size, some people manage to walk past without noticing it. But the tree has built up its own fan club and it attracts visitors who come to picnic under its bows and take in its splendour. Giant redwoods were introduced into the UK by William Lobb in 1853, following a visit to California. Within a short time, this larger-than-life conifer, so symbolic of the vast American wilderness, had become a status symbol in Britain. Charlie Evans, who nominated the tree says: “I want more people to enjoy the beauty of this tree and be able to take their families and friends for a lovely time out to see it.”
The Bodnant Coast Redwood
Bodnant Gardens, Conwy
The 80 acres of Bodnant Garden National Trust near Conwy are home to a historic collection of trees. One of them, a Welsh Champion, is the Coast Redwood in the valley garden of the Dell. It was planted in 1887 by the garden’s founder Henry Pochin, who developed the pinetum by introducing North American and Asian trees newly-discovered by plant hunters of the day.
It’s a favourite of head gardener John Rippin: “For me the most dramatic tree at Bodnant Garden is the champion Sequoia sempervirens which soars to a massive 51.5 metres! The Conwy Valley has ideal growing conditions for redwoods and I would love to think Bodnant’s giants will still be going strong in 200 years, possibly reaching the magical 100 metre mark and providing our future visitors with an even more awesome sight and helping to preserve one of the world’s most incredible trees.”