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How old is that tree?


Although I am still new to identifying trees, though I am ably assisted by the ‘Picture This’ App, I am now taking the next step to approximate their age. A quick google gives a variety of approaches, some more technical than others, and those from the US forever having you choose between imperial feet and inches or the far more sensible metric systems. Having started with inches I quickly flip the tape measure around and go with centimeters instead to remove one complexity in the calculation.

The science is self-evident – some trees grow faster than others, and the growing conditions will have an impact too. I am not after an exact age, so looking for a recently sawn down tree of the same type and girth, or sawing down the tree to get at its age or taking a core sample would be taking it too far. And unless in my own garden, against the law.

All I want to be able to do is to take a measurement, do a calculation based on what kind of tree it is and therefore say that this tree is around 50 years old, or 100 years old or 150 years old. That’s about the range, with some closer to the 30 years mark, anything younger a sapling of sorts and anything far older edging towards ‘ancient’. Rather like guessing a person’s age I think you develop an eye for it, certainly around your own parks and walks. Around Lewes there is a lot around the 60 year old, very few old trees and many younger. I’m thinking the oldest trees are likely to be in the cemetery, where ancient yews are often found. And in Southover Grange Gardens which was in private hands 100 years ago and has an old mulberry and equally old beech which I think are at least 300 years old?

I try out my method around Stanley Turner measuring a sweet chestnut here, a field maple there, a sycamore too. The willow that came down a few years ago are surely reaching the 250 years old mark and having been sawn off I could get an exact diameter.

While the field maple that came down a year ago is possibly around 60 years old.

There is a chance that there is someone alive who remembers them being planted – or even planted them. For this I need to approach the Rugby and Cricket Club.

I also head up to Jubilee Gardens and visit Bell Lane.

My calculations remain vague. I put this large beech in Jubilee Gardens off Juggs Lane at 120 to 130 years old. With all of these are await correct.

I’m yet to calculate the age of the trees in Bell Lane Recreation Ground or the older trees in the Railways Land Wildlife Trust Land.


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