Today saw the first serious gales of the winter. All summer and probably for many years, trees have been rotting away inside their trunks.
Fungi feast on the lignin and cellulose material that gives wood its strength until the outer, living, wood is no longer strong enough to stand the stresses of bending.
The force of the wind on leaves and branches of a fully mature oak tree must be considerable. Think of how the wind on a few sails will drive a sailing ship of many tons through the water. Tree branches with leaves offer thousands of surfaces for the wind to act upon. The force is proportional to the square of the wind speed. That is, if the wind speed doubles, the force goes up 4 times. If it triples, the force increases 9 times.
Hiltingury: My neighour’s narrow escape
Today many trees must have fallen, some doing damage and even taking life. Our neighbour in Hiltingbury had a narrow escape when an oak tree in her garden was blown over directly towards the house. Anyone would have thought that it would have burst through the roof into the living room smashing walls, windows and tiles as it fell.
In the event it was just not quite tall enough. The top-most branches just reached the guttering on the roof and brought down a few shards of plastic. You can see on the picture that there is no guttering beneath the roof tiles.
Lakewood Tree Surgeons led by Paul were quickly on site to clear up the mess with their buzz saws and chipping machine. I considered asking them to leave any unwanted logs in my drive for the fire. However, due to previous storms and felling dead and diseased trees, the woodshed is full and there are piles of logs at the bottom of the garden.
The tree had a split at a branch point and for years rainwater had been able to penetrate. This allowed the rotting organisms to enter and live quietly and unseen while they destroyed the strength of the tree. Inside was a dark brown powdery substance instead of hard wood.
Trees are such magnificent structures that it is always sad to see one fall or be felled. There is then the opportunity to plant or allow a new one to grow in its place. For those with financial interests, plant a walnut. One square meter of walnut veneer currently costs over £100. Your pocket will not be lined but your grandchildren may benefit.