Summer Trees: an appreciation of three trees along Queens Road*
*Or just off it
As I write this issue of Trees of Beeston, the sun is scorching and a heatwave has kicked in, so I wanted to reflect on the glorious street trees that provide shade and respite from weather extremes in our town. In particular, the trees on or just off Queens Road. There are too few where once there were lines of poplar trees, these have now been replaced by driveways and parking. I was genuinely gutted to witness the cutting down of the silver birches that were once on King Street, the first trees I wrote about for The Beestonian back in 2018. I am sometimes concerned that this column could perform a Medusa style kiss-of-death whenever I mention the notable trees beloved of the community! I missed the silver birches very much walking past in the blazing sun earlier. Same with the large tree that was next to the Rockaway / now private flats along Station road near the slip-road to the train station.
So I want to dare to salute and acknowledge three trees: the Alder on the corner of Station Road and Queens Road (behind the billboard and what was once public toilets latterly Vicky’s beauty bar), that provides dappled shade while waiting to cross at the junction of Station Road and Queens Road, where birds perch and sing.
Further along Queens Road heading into Nottingham there is, on the right-hand side the copper beech tree of Queens Road near Alexander Crescent with its seasonally changing leaf colours, and tall aspect for blackbird song in the spring. Every time I see it, I am reminded of the Sherlock Holmes Copper Beeches mystery (if you haven’t read it, do so, it’s a joy, Beeston Library has a copy). This is a spectacular tree, casting its shade and cover across the road and providing shade to anyone waiting for the bus into town.
Finally, I want to mention the majestic Tree Preservation Order protected (so I have been unofficially informed) sycamore tree of Henry Street where owls are heard to hoot and bats have been seen. Plaques have been placed on this tree to reflect the local love for it, a reminder that our Beeston trees are loved and appreciated beyond the short term cutting-down profiteering of the absentee landlords who appear to target this part of Beeston for rental properties, levelling down any trees or plants that might serve as a financial loss in their maintenance.
I am reminded walking down Station Road towards Beeston centre that the house with the plaque ‘The Beeches’ on it was likely named after trees that were planted along the road a century ago. Many towns that developed their roads after WW1 began street tree planting programmes in order to create idealised living landscapes for those returning from the Western Front. The remains of one old beech tree – its low-cut trunk and roots bears witness to the likelihood of this.
A majestic tall mature tree is a privilege to behold and be around. Trees are recognised to add value to properties (think of the lovely leafy trees along Devonshire Avenue!), so when there are few tall street trees, they should be treasured. In the cold of winter, tree canopies trap in the warmth and provide shelter from the rain and snow. Tree canopies provide splendid shade and cool temperatures in the heat, especially good if one is waiting for a bus (thank you copper beech of Queens Road!), and the evapotranspiration of water from the leaves has a cooling effect on the surrounding air. Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30% and in the winter save energy used for heating between 20 – 50%. In addition to this, trees provide habitat, food and protection to plants and animals, increasing urban biodiversity which is good for the wellbeing of humans and animals.
Of course, trees need to be maintained. Coppicing a tree, maintaining its branches helps both the tree and the humans around. Make sure you find a qualified tree surgeon though, then they will maintain and care for your tree.
If you don’t have a tree, have a look around on your wanderings around Beeston, choose your favourite tree, and adopt it. Look out for it. Take care of it. Give it a hug. Artists and scientists recognise the enriching capacity of hugging a tree, and it will do you a world of good.
If you have space in your front or back garden, consider planting a tree. Even miniature trees in pots on a balcony can improve your quality of life and that of the insects and bird wildlife. As the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree is yesterday, the second best time is now.
Reference: Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations website / benefit of urban trees.