Lianne and family

Lianne’s Life in Beeston: Korean poet writes about her time in England

Towards the end of the year, and during the festive season, we often think about the people close to us.

We meet family members that we don’t see very often, and think about people we miss. Earlier this year, I met two Beeston residents who have re-connected with a Korean friend (and poet) in a delightful, but unexpected, way.

On 31 July 2002, Lianne arrived in Nottingham with her son, her sister, and niece, but moved to Beeston just under a year later, in July 2003. Her prolonged stay in England was for the benefit of her son, Harry-Kim, and niece Nicky, as the sisters wanted them to study, get their education here and experience the English culture.

korea - Copy (2)

They moved to Highgrove Avenue in Beeston, and soon connected with their neighbours Sue and Malcolm Turner. “We take people into our hearts when we see them,” says Sue. “We treated them like family.”

“We got to know them very quickly,” adds Malcolm. “They were out on a limb and if there were any problems we would help them.”

A close friendship quickly formed between the two families, so much so that the sisters weren’t shy about knocking on Sue and Malcolm’s door to come over for a cup of tea, or watch a football match, as they were always welcome and didn’t need an invitation. “It can be very difficult coming to a new country and in some other areas it might have been different for them, but not here,” says Malcolm.

“…she wants to share her experiences with the people of Nottingham.”

The family stayed in Beeston until July 2005, but during their time here they went out on lots of day trips, both locally and places further afield like London. Sue and Malcolm would often take them out on day trips, including visiting their son’s narrowboat. When they left, it was because Lianne’s son Harry was about to start senior school.

“In their house everything the children did at school went on the wall, the whole visit was about giving them the best education possible, and because they are only allowed one child everything goes into doing the best for that one child,” says Malcolm.

IMG_6887

Earlier this year, 13 years since they last saw Lianne, they received a letter from her, sent with a set of three books. The books are a series under the title: Korean Poet Lianne’s Life In England With Her Son. The books are written in Korean, and are based on the letters that Lianne sent to her husband while she was in England. Sue and Malcolm were overwhelmed to hear from her, and they had no idea she’d had the books published. In her letter to them, Lianne highlights the page in which she mentions them. When I met with the couple, we had a look, and found fragments of English words, including their names. “It’s a start!” says Malcolm. “We’d like to get this section translated.”

In her letter, Lianne asks them to donate the books to Beeston Library, as she wants to share her experiences with the people of Nottingham. In the back of the books, there are English notes thanking the ‘English friends’ she connected with, including other Beestonians who she has also sent copies of her books to.

After meeting Sue and Malcolm, they got in contact with Lianne to tell her about this article, and get her permission for it to be published, and she wrote the following to be included:

“This book is a love letter for people who have sent their family to England and have missed them. England is a place that gave our family the wisdom of life when we were in need of a change; a place where memories were made with friends despite the language barrier. I have written a story of our young children who have experienced English culture, and have brought a story of learning love in their pleasant and simple life, into these letters. It is an England life story that makes us feel attached despite the distance between us. I hope this story about us can bring a smile on every separated-family face. I dedicate this book to all of the friends in England and to everyone who knows me.”

This story is just one of many that will have been formed between people moving in and out of Beeston over the years, and how people from completely different cultures can become like family to one another over the space of only a few years. The friendship they shared will last for the rest of their lives, and the copies of the books in Beeston Library will be a legacy to the time Lianne spent here, and will provide comfort and solace to our current and thriving Korean community.

JM

Beeston’s Little Historians

Touring the town with Beeston’s youngest residents…

46359028_10155466966081442_9211784498558009344_n

We like a bit of history at The Beestonian. Our history chap Jimmy never fails to hand in excellent content about Beeston’s back story, and we like to think that we’ve helped a little bit to bring that to life. We even devoted our last issue to the subject, and that caught the attention of some teachers who –wisely–also happen to be Beestonian readers.

“Dear people who make the Beestonian,” they wrote “Here at John Clifford School we have a wonderful group of pupils who would really like a walk around Beeston to see some of the historical bits, which will hopefully engage them in a lifelong curiosity in civic history. Can you help?”

Well, we walk it as we talk it here at The Beestonian so we logged into Google Maps, purchased a new compass and devised a route. And on a sunny autumn afternoon, we met up with thirty fact-hungry five + six year olds at West End and took them on a tour of the town.

No boring recitation of dates and detail though: this is an age group where ancient history is the London Olympics and a tram-free Beeston. We thought it best to try and bring the history to life. And that’s exactly what happened, from the moment Robin Hood (our Bow Selecta columnist Tim Pollard) leapt from behind a tree to yelps of surprised delight. Shouting out favourite fruit in Hallams followed; appreciation of the fantastic new street art, then adopting Bendigo boxing stances outside the pugilist-monikered cafebar, then clambers over the Beeman and a trip to our community shop.

The kids were wonderful, well behaved, funny and flattering (I’m looking at you, six-year old lad who, on being asked to guess my age, took a punt on ‘28?’). A huge thanks to the teachers, volunteers and parents who accompanied us on the trek and got us all safely from stop to stop without a single child being lost (we think).

Our town is full of stories and overlapping layers of lives. We think that getting to know some of them makes our town a richer place to live – and starting that process young is no bad thing. Grab a compass and a few back issues of this fine publication, and we’ll see you en-route.

MT

Creative Beeston: We are the creative champions!

As we round off another year celebrating all that is creative in our vibrant little town, it seemed like the ideal opportunity to rejoice in the creative diversity we have in Beeston.

45852347_10156525617680211_2451628059099398144_n

As well as the wealth of independent shopping prospects up and down the High Road, we have artists and makers in in every corner of our suburban streets. One local creative, who has been joining me in honouring Beeston’s originality is local photographer Lamar Francois, whose image of the metal sculpture by Hilary Cartmel in Broadgate park is immortalised in his 2019 calendar.

46012276_10156525616570211_2814081465900335104_n

I met with Lamar on a dazzling autumn day, which is pretty much how I remember the first photographs that I ever saw of his. I bought the 2017 urban landscapes calendar as an attractive reminder that the concrete and neon of our city, form beautiful backdrops to the monotonous moments of our daily lives. The craft behind a product like this is why I buy handmade and indeed why we should. So far removed from the over-produced flimsy printed pages in supermarkets and chain stores, this quality finished calendar represents hours of careful consideration from start to finish.

Nestled neatly between a beautifully illuminated Market Square and Nottingham Castle bathed in summer sunshine, the calendar contains two Beeston related photographs but the Broadgate one is my favourite. The intricate metalwork design of the organic sculpture stands out against shade under boughs and small children play in the background, their ribbons echoing the curves within the sculptures frame. The other image gives a wider view of our local treasures, the River Trent taken from Beeston Rylands playing fields, and is equally dramatic in its own right. Lamar tells me the process of choosing the right photographs is a tough one. They have to be relatable, as well as awe inspiring, and of locations that people instantly recognise whilst avoiding clichés.

He hid safely behind the social media curtain, which did get his work out there, but it also had a tendency to be lost in a sea of images.

45783548_10156525617650211_4299531033759449088_n

Lamar’s passion for photography happened around the same time that he was living in Beeston, as a student at Nottingham University, where he now works part-time helping to manage a seed library that serves the plant science community. He originally used his phone to photograph his subjects but was curious about cameras and how these could extend his skills. He helped to run a photography society at university which gave him the opportunity he needed. After buying his own camera, Lamar secured some Prince’s Trust finding which helped him to pay for extra equipment as well as giving him access to a business mentor, which he says has been the most valuable resource of all.

As is the case with many creatives, the promotional side doesn’t always come as easy as creating a product, and this is something Lamar found especially difficult. Having Asperger’s means that he wasn’t confident socially, and this really hampered the necessity to push himself out into the spotlight. He hid safely behind the social media curtain, which did get his work out there, but it also had a tendency to be lost in a sea of images. His business mentor has helped to boost Lamar’s confidence and encouraged him to market his images by printing off and framing a series of limited edition prints for exhibiting. A decade on he is experiencing success.

45783548_10156525613965211_3225992653770326016_n

I asked Lamar how this made him feel and he spoke animatedly of the joy when someone shows their appreciation of your work by being willing to pay for it. Their admiration has encouraged and bolstered him to experiment more. He also feels that through networking he has met many supportive people who have offered advice and lead to collaborations, the most exciting of these being the pictorial representation of the City of Literature bid, especially as he was chosen out of many other talented photographers – I could feel his pride swell as he told me this.

And so this is why we should shop at our independents this festive period. Not only are you likely to find more unique and quirky presents and be putting money back into the local economy, you are supporting our entrepreneurs and their families, helping to build communities and making an actual individual do a ‘happy dance!’

You can acquire a copy of the calendar at some of our indie shops, who also champion a number of our local creatives. It is currently stocked at Artworks on the corner of Chilwell High Road/Imperial Road  Perfectly Formed at Chilwell’s Creative Corner and Two Little Magpies at the Broadgate end of the High Road.

Or via Lamar’s website www.picturedbylamar.co.uk where you can also view more of his spectacular photography.

DU

Daisy Leverington

Motherhood #9: ‘Tis the season

It’s getting close, I can smell it. The faint scent of pleading in the air. The most delicate whiff of peer pressure and hope. The bold claims among school friends about which presents have been requested and which ones they will oh-so-definitely be receiving. It’s Christmas and there’s absolutely no escape.

Every Christmas in our house is a day of firsts and lasts. It’s always bitter-sweet and there is no greater measurement of the passing of too-short childhood years to make me wonder if this year was a few months shorter than usual. We only have one child, so each year we edge closer to losing her belief in Santa, the mystery grows smaller and wonder shrinks like a vacuum-packed tool set. She’s still little enough to believe, but big enough that next year she might not. Each present from Santa is precious and for a second she is tiny again, mystified by the enormity of his night time adventures. The next second she is opening a card with £10 sellotaped inside and a tiny piece of the spell falls away.

Christmas with a child has been the lovliest experience. It was a stressful time growing up with divorced parents and time-share days and two dinners, always two dinners. Now we have our own family and although we still need to try to find balance between 4 different sets of grandparents, we manage and it’s peaceful and we fall asleep after dinner just like our parents did. The hardest part of the day is trying to soak it all up, to take in her face when she opens an unexpected gift or watches her dad try on his inevitable novelty hat. To take photos but not too many, to capture the best moments but also not to miss them trying to switch the camera on.

Firsts and lasts happen simultaneously with an only child and Christmas is such a huge barometer of how little time we actually have that I can’t help but feel a little sad. I’m very lucky, I know. I know that my tiny family is here and safe and loved, and I know that other’s aren’t. So, every year I will love and give and play and argue because there aren’t any promises that we have more to come. I will get annoyed at advertising and buy it anyway, I’ll buy glittery make up for my 7 year old if that make her happy, because one day she will wants £30 lipsticks and I’ll spend the day weeping into my bank statement. It’s the little things, the little lasts. They are my real present.

DL

Read previous Motherhood’ columns

The Village (or Market) Cross

Keeper of Beeston’s secret history…

Although not a War Memorial by any means, the story of Beeston’s ‘Village Cross’ is so bound-up with that of the ‘Memorial Cross’. It is no coincidence that Beeston has a ‘cross’ as it’s war memorial or that it should stand on the site that it does. Through changes to the road layout over time, the Memorial Cross now appears to stand by the side of Middle Street. In actual fact this site was once in the middle of the road at this important road-junction between Church Street, Dovecote Lane, West End and Middle Street. Here was once the geographical heart of the settlement that was to become the town of Beeston.

In Britain, over 1,000 years ago, when Christianity began to spread among the pagan Anglo Saxons, the new faith was preached to the people from a stone pillar, (‘preaching cross’) erected in the heart of the community. This was most often close to the manor house, the home of the most important member and leader of the community. Once Christianity had been establish,  a parish church was built, first in ‘wattle-and- daub’ and latter in stone. With the new church, preaching crosses became redundant and many took on a secular use as market crosses. We might add here that this is the evolution of many village crosses, however, there are a large number of market crosses purposefully erected to mark the place of village commerce.

…two of the most important buildings in the community, the Manor House and parish church are close by the site.

It is known that a village cross stood at the centre of the Middle Streets crossroads. Given the facts, it is no surprise then, to find that two of the most important buildings in the community, the Manor House and parish church are close by the site. It is suspected that Beeston’s village cross was once used as a market cross. Certainly there are clues to this effect; it is widely believed that a corn market was held nearby the site, – until the 1860s, Middle Street, from the Memorial Cross to its junction with Station Road was known as Market Street.

The cross was removed, perhaps as a hazard to road traffic, sometime in the 1850’s and the whereabouts of its remains lost until 1929. It was in that year that part of the cross was discovered built into the wall of Manor Lodge, by the headmaster at ‘Church Street Junior Boys School’,  Arthur Cossons. Cossons was an active ‘local historian’ with a passion for Beeston’s history. He recognised a large piece of masonry in the wall as being a part of the ‘shaft’ of a  medieval cross. Proud of his discovery, Cossons had the cross shaft removed to Church Street and erected by the side of the school where it stands to this day.

Did you know?

  • The shaft of the medieval cross, – marked by a Blue Plaque, – can be found on Church Street, standing between the wall of the old school building and the footpath.
  • The shaft, believed to be 14th  century, is now a ‘Grade II’ listed monument. Most of the Victorian Board School was demolished in 2005, however, the headteachers house remains.
  • A Blue Plaque, dedicated to Arthur Cossons is is attached high-up on the gable wall of this building which was his home from 1932 to 1958.

JN

Hivemind: 10 facts about Professor Sir Martyn Poliakoff

  1. He’s a YouTube star: forget your Zoellas and your Joe Suggs (“who the hell are they?” – anyone over 25) the big-haired polymath has racked up a staggering
    183,580,239 views with his Periodic Videos series. Best Comment Left Under His Videos: “This man looks like science”
  2. At the last count, Poliakoff had 27 letters after his name, and as such requires a passport printed on A3 card and an airport Toblerone placename when attending conferences.
  3. He is a pioneer and leading expert in the concept of ‘Green Chemistry’, which is about finding environmentally safe ways to mass produce chemicals, and not
    working out why frogs are that colour.
  4. When the new five pound note came out, he tested their supposed indestructability by freezing one in liquid nitrogen and bashing it with a hammer (it broke) and then pouring nitric acid over another (it faded). This proved conclusively that he has a better job than yours.
  5. His brother is famous screenwriter Stephen Poliakoff. They have yet to collaborate on a chemistry + drama mash-up, but we wait with bated breath.
  6. The descendent of Russian refugees who fled the revolution, he is a passionate advocate for refugee rights and contributed an intro to the fund-raising Over Land, Over Sea poetry anthology. We salute this very much.
  7. He is a former Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society, which is a role older than the Government office of state. Needless to say, he did a better job than Boris bloody Johnson is doing.
  8. To be fair, a dead rat on a stick smeared in rancid honey could do a better job than Boris Johnson.
  9. He once calculated that the FIFA World Cup could not be made of solid gold as it would be too heavy to lift. Not that anyone from England will ever get a chance to try.
  10. He is a Beestonian through and through, a great, involved member of the community. We salute you Prof Poliakoff!

Oxjam in the house

oxjam2

The 2018 Oxjam Beeston Music Festival began quietly with the first of our ‘house concerts’: local composer and pianist Richard Hinsley played on a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon for thirty guests. There are more to follow – if you are interested in putting on an Oxjam House Concert, contact us via the website. Pop in and see us at the Beeston Carnival where we’ll have tickets and flyers for all events – Unplugged 22nd September, Takeover 13th October, Classical 17th November, Ceilidh 1st December; visit the website oxjambeeston.org or find us on Facebook.

Photos © Jenny Langran

CT

Beeston Beats: Interview with Nactus Kunan

Music, gigs and festivals – who’s out this weekend?

36477831_996443803849381_949728650532487168_n

According to online information station Wikipedia, ‘Nactus kunan is an extant species of slender-toe geckos described in 2012, and indigenous to the Admiralty Islands of Papua New Guinea. It is brightly coloured, and its specific name means “bumblebee” in the local Nali language.’

Although I am an avid supporter of nature I haven’t decided to give Sir David Attenborough a run for his money instead I have stumbled upon the musical stylings of local Beeston band of the aforementioned gecko name. Individually known as Jack Kwiecinski, Josef Bone, Antony Rocco Onorati and John Wood the lads have formed Nactus Kunan and flying the flag for a style of music aptly named RnBeeston. Being a nosey so and so, I Facebook stalked them and frog marched them to the canalside heritage for an interrogation into all things beestony, musicy (technical term) and an impromptu photo session. Luckily the guys were willing victims and happily chatted to me even though the world was wrapped up in the world cup frenzy.

In the cafe the staff are just about coping with the fire alarm that’s blaring and rings through the heritage centre at what feels like a million decibels, i order a coffee and wait outside, sure enough over bound half of the band quickly followed by the remaining members, I suggest starting the photo shoot as the weather looks ridiculously murky and rain seems imminent.  The garden at the heritage centre is a great setting for photos and the bands easy going demeanour helps as my suggestions for the photos are met with an impressive eagerness. We briefly chat  about favourite pubs, Fast Lane and musical influences, take some more photos and head to Owens place for some shots with the weir in the background, altogether a fun and productive meet, want to know what the band had to say? Here it is from the ‘osses cakehole…

36448186_996444157182679_2069526113222131712_n

Morning Nactus Kunan, how are you today?

We’ve just been diagnosed with a terminal case of World Cup fever, but other than that we’re very well thanks!

Tell us a bit about Nactus Kunan…

We’re a four-piece, alternative band that formed in 2017. Our music draws from a diverse range of influences including Dr Dre, Sade, George Michael and New Order. We combine heavy synths, slick guitars and 808 beats to create (what we think) is our own distinctive sound.

How did you all meet?

We all went to Chilwell School. Jack and Tony have been mates since they bonded over a shared love of 50 Cent and PES4 when they were about 12. Joe and John were in different school years, but we all ended up gravitating towards each other when we got a bit older. The friendship consolidated over a few years in the pub in Beeston, before Jack and Joe started trying to write some songs together

What’s your favourite thing about this lovely neck of the woods?

Heaven is a place on Earth. We love Beeston, so it’s very difficult to pick our favourite thing about the area. Aside from the fact it has the best transport links in Europe and a burgeoning, multicultural high-street, we’d probably have to say the pubs. We love the beer garden at the Star and we regularly score a respectable 17 out of 30 on the Crown pub quiz! Also Poppa Pizza The best pizza in the city bar none!

Who are you favourite local artists and why?

We really like Max Loelz, he has this laid-back, hip-hop vibe which we’re into. Also, Joe’s brother Charlie plays guitar for Yazmin Lacey who’s an incredible talent – she’s just started getting massive in the jazz world. We’re good friends with a band called Amulet as well. They’ve just written a load of new tunes with electronic drums which sound amazing.

 

Describe ‘RnBeeston’ for me?

Our early songs took a lot of cues from R&B, but we were always influenced by conventional guitar music too, which made our sound quite difficult to define. We said this tongue-in-cheek phrase ‘RnBeeston’ once and it stuck. It’s hard to explain, but there’s definitely a certain character to our music that captures the essence of Beeston…

 Anything else to say to the lovely readers of Beestonian?

Be sure to check out our latest single, ‘Exit at the Group Stage’. It’s a World Cup anthem (of sorts) about late nights and early kick offs; staying too long and leaving to soon. The official music video, shot at the Victory Club and various other Beeston locations, is now available to watch on YouTube.

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the band for allowing themselves to  become victims in my line of questioning and having seen them perform over at rough trade in Nottingham after the interview I can say the lads are well worth a watch live, right which unfortunate souls are on the hit list next??

LD

 

We Dig NG9: Plants gone wild

Tamar Feast on Beeston’s Wild Side

unnamed (1)

Six years ago, this odd patch of grass next to Myford’s factory was basically a dumping ground for litter, garden trimmings and erm… discarded golf paraphernalia. I passed it, wearily, twice daily.

Four years ago, I got the Council to not cut it, and started establishing it as a wildflower dumping ground for litter and garden trimmings instead.

One year ago, it was recovering from erroneous grass cuts due to the Council’s sheer circumlocution-like ineptitude. The burgeoning meadow flowers I’d planted and sown the years before were denied their fifteen minutes of fame and, despite managing to win a Level 4 award in the ‘RHS East Midlands in Bloom: It’s Your Neighbourhood’ competition, it looked pretty sorry for itself.

Despite more set-backs this year, [fanfare] the grass has now erupted in a SUMMER BOOM of colour. This is largely thanks to extra wildflower seed donated by a guy called Chris, who sowed it with his daughter, Holly, once the footpath reopened earlier in the year.

It’s not just about pretty flowers, though. There’s a brash heap and log pile (good for grass snakes, insects, invertebrates and small mammals), and fruit trees and hedglings from The Woodland Trust.

unnamed (2)

RHS Wisley it ain’t. But it IS a-buzz with pollinators flitting from plant to plant, taking pit stops on the Bug Squat (hotels are sooo ‘Bridgford). Here too, Hedgehogs rummage around; Bats and Swifts (numbers of the latter are worryingly low this year) hunt overhead in the last of the light at dusk and the gloaming.

It really is simple: less is more. Leave a piece of your garden to ‘go over’, or plant wild flowers if you prefer (native ones are best – so you know they’ll help insects in this country).

To some, it may look weedy (“I’d torch the lot” said one lady to me while I topped-up the bird feeders). But wild verges work hard, helping our underappreciated Beestonians: the critters pollinating your fruit, veg, and flowers; or eating the ones eating your fruit, veg and flowers. And they need all the help they can get.

unnamed

We love to see wildlife in our gardens. But if we tidy away the places it lives, feeds and breeds, or if the only ‘wild abandon’ we allow is that with which we throw down slug pellets, then it could soon disappear. Don’t get me started on slug pellets – I don’t have the word allowance…

Although small, rewilding areas like this connects one patch of habitat to another, so species who thrive or rely on linear movement; on mixing species through urban areas, or on stop-offs to larger habitats – such as Attenborough Nature Reserve – can survive.

It really is simple: less is more. Leave a piece of your garden to ‘go over’, or plant wild flowers if you prefer (native ones are best – so you know they’ll help insects in this country). If you have space for a pond, this will exponentially boost the benefit – even an old washing-up bowl sunk in the ground, filled with rain water and some rocks (for escape) will soon be colonised.

unnamed (3)

If all this sounds like too much mess and effort, or you’re only up for doing one thing to help wildlife: please STOP USING SLUG PELLETS.

True to its word, an established ‘wild’ patch can get on with very little interference from us.  And, though We Dig NG9’s will never be proper idyllic ‘meadow’, of course – if it looks nice, well that’s just a bonus.  (TF)

Connect with We Dig NG9 on Twitter and Instagram: @WeDigNG9

WeDigNG9@gmail.com

TF

Trees of Beeston

Trees of Beeston is a psychogeographical and art project that celebrates the arboreal entities and architectures that enrich the landscapes and lives of humans and animals living, working, or visiting Beeston in Nottinghamshire, UK.

tree1

Between spring and autumn 2018, Dr Jo Norcup will facilitate a small group of Beestonian tree-appreciators under the moniker ‘The Beeston Tree Appreciation Society’. We will map and record (via words, sounds and pictures) stories of trees that serve as landmarks and enhance the landscape of Beeston. Informed by historical and civic activities as well as by the stories and connections that Beestonians and honorary Beestonians have in how they connect and appreciate the trees that mark our landscape, a gazetteer map will be created so that residents and visitors alike might explore the local geography of Beeston and the living landmarks that endow and make habitable life in this part of the East Midlands.

Tree appreciation will be further explored in a series of forthcoming workshops and local field trips to be held in the autumn (details TBA).

For further details on how to get involved and to find out more go to www.geographyworkshop.com/TreesOfBeeston

Please follow on social media via @geo_workshop hashtag #TreesOfBeeston

Trees of Beeston #1 “The Truffula Trees” (Silver Birches) of King Street.

IMG_20180618_161747

“I speak for the trees, for they have no tongues”

In his children’s book The Lorax, Dr Seuss’s wise tree environmentalist and eco-warrior, The Lorax, warns of the rapid loss of trees and environments at the hands of short-term profiteering “I speak for the Trees” he repeats. The Once-ler (who narrates the sad story), tells how he learnt, too late, not to destroy the natural environment.  How, when the trees are removed, the animals, birds, insects and other animals move away, leaving a desolate and depleted landscape no animal, and indeed, no human wants to live in.  The moral: to be mindful of the future, to be wise custodians of the trees, plants, and animals that enrich our daily lives so that we and future generations might also have a quality of living that appreciates in turn the natural world and non-human lives that enrich it.

My son was the first to see the shape of the silver birches along King Street in Beeston as the Truffula trees of Dr Seuss’s tale.  On a street where there are no street trees to speak of apart from these majestic deciduous duo (save the holly tree growing from the cracked tarmac at the side of the ginnell wall between the motorcycle showroom and the housing near the Queen Street end of King Street – yes, I see you too wee tree), these two Silver Birches (and a couple of smaller saplings at their base) provide both landmark and respite to the eye from the primarily residential and industrial buildings along King Street.  Go closer to these trees, and you find a wee ecosystem, as the silver birch provides the lightest of canopy of leaves through which sunlight can dapple its way through to enable other plants to grow.  Other smaller saplings are present, fighting for light and space in their small location in front of an electrical sub-station where a small black fly-tipped bin and rubbish that someone has dumped has been grown over by wild flowers (“weeds” to give them their antisocial pejorative shorthand) and the foliage of the saplings.  Three types of valerian grow in white, pink and purple, giving colour and cover as well as pollen and habitat to insects and butterflies. The Silver Birch (Betula pendula) is known as a ‘pioneering tree’ because it can grow pretty much anywhere. The roots draw up nutrients and when its small serrated heart-shaped leaves and catkins fall, this deciduous tree provides fertile compostable nutrients in which other plants can find a home. It is a tiny oasis.  Walking past them regularly as we do, the sound of the leaves gently bristling in the slightest of breezes that on a parched heatwave day is akin to a lightly babbling brook. The sound calms. The cascade of leaves on thin branches cools with its light coverage. We always greet the trees with a respectful hello. They are friends.  They are much loved.  They make our daily lives better. We always slow down for them, more often than not stopping, for fleeting seconds to pay our respects. For local dog owners, these trees provide a stopping point and canine territorial interest. In 2013, The Beestonian (issue 21) published a poem by the local poet Steve Plowright about them.  It is repeated below.

A Pair of Silver Birch Trees

By Steve Plowright

Silver-soldered soldiers
Solid through the Seasons
Re-assurance resonates,
Whilst gazing through your filigree
Of branch and twig and leaf

Silver sheen of bark
Mercurial magicians
Light unwilling journeys
On sighing school mornings
You never beg to question

Just a pair of silver soldiers
Guardians of our secrets
You never show your feelings
Thanks for your solidarity
Thanks for being there

 

Tree facts: #1The Silver Birch

  • Botanical name: Betula pendula of family Betulacae
  • A native tree to Europe and parts of Asia, known in America as the European white birch.
  • Deciduous tree with a white peeling paper-like bark with slender and pendulous branches, it has small heart/triangular shaped leaves with serrated edges that are green in spring and summer, turning yellow before they fall in the autumn.
  • The Silver Birch flowers catkins and is self-pollinating bearing both male and female catkins (droopy and small, compact cylindrical respectively) that scatter seeds with the wind.
  • Known as a pioneer species of tree as they are often the first type of tree to appear in a clearing, the catkins produced often containing high levels of nitrates drawn up from the roots, the leaf and catkin litter producing fertile compost in which other plants are able to succeed.
  • Silver birches provide habitat for a diverse range of insect and bird species, and larger specimens in gardens and parks provide ideal perching points for songbirds.
  • Humans have derived a number of uses from the Silver Birch: their sap can be tapped when it rises in March, and the sweet liquid can be used a little like maple syrup or concentrated and fermented for brewing wine and beer. The timber of the Silver Birch can be used for joinery, firewood, brooms and tool handles. Medicinally, Silver Birch has been used in traditional medicine as a diuretic, and externally can be used to promote healing to relieve skin pain and inflammation as its decorative bark contains triterpenes.
  • The Silver Birch is the national tree of Finland.

References and wider reading:

Edlin, H.L. (1970) Collins guide to Tree Planting and Cultivation. Gardeners Book Club. Newton Abbott.

Plowright, S (2013) A pair of Silver Birch trees. The Beestonian no 21. Back page.

Dr JN

Contact Us
I agree to the Beestonian using my data to process this order as per their Privacy Policy. I also understand that the Beestonian will send one e-mail letting me know when new editions are published. I understand I can opt out at any time by using the 'unsubscribe' link.
reCAPTCHA

BEESTLY TWEETS: