The turning of the seasons, especially summer easing into autumn, has for centuries inspired poets. The changing colours of trees and falling leaves which crunch underfoot tend to get poetic juices flowing. “Every leaf seems bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree,” as Emily Bronte wrote so simply.
With the onset of October, leaves are withering, but one tree still stands out — the rowan, or mountain ash. For some reason this year, the rowan’s scarlet berries appear brighter than usual as autumn progresses and we see its branches drooping with the weight of berries.
This tree is useful to nature. When it flowers earlier in the year, it attracts moths and other insects while in winter, several bird species, thrushes in particular, feast on the berries. The birds also help disperse the berries, leading to the growth of new trees.
The rowan has an age-old association with druids and witchcraft, featuring in our folk traditions and those of many countries. It has been part of Celtic mythology for thousands of years. People planted it near their houses believing the colourful berries would protect them from evil.
References to it are also found in the National Folklore Collection, at University College Dublin. One says that if you pluck the branch of a rowan tree and put it on the roof with a piece of timber, the roof will be safe from storms for 12 months.
The Tree Council of Ireland will launch Tetra Pak Tree Day, on October 3. Schools and families are invited to spend the day learning about trees.
As part of this year’s campaign, over 1,000 native tree saplings will be made available free of charge through the website treeday.ie, for primary schools to help teach pupils about the importance of planting trees as a way of doing their bit for the planet.
The website also enables children to take a pledge to be life-long friends of the environment. This is an opportunity for children, teachers and parents to connect directly with trees, nature and the outdoors.
Many schools also take part in guided woodland walks in locations around the country, allowing children to connect directly with nature.
Finally, we can report a Spanish chestnut tree in an historic spot at Cork Golf Club, in Little Island, looks magnificent at present. It was planted at the 11th hole to mark a huge, 332m drive by late Spanish golfer Seve Ballesteros when he played an exhibition match with one of Ireland’s leading professionals, Liam Higgins, in 1983.
Planting this beautiful tree was an apt way of ensuring the visit of the famous Spaniard to the club would be long remembered.