Although Scots pines are native to Scotland, they are an abundant naturalized species on heaths in South East England.
The tree was frequently used as an ornamental landscape tree in old parks, and this may explain why you can find some very old granny pines to the north of the pond, as this area was once owned by the Pierrepont Estate. In fact all our oldest trees, including veteran oaks, can be found here.
Along the northern boundary of the common, adjacent to the bridleway, you’ll find a series of old and ancient oaks. Each one becomes progressively younger in age as you travel westward towards the Priory Lane car park. The oldest of our lovely oaks is a veteran, which would have been planted at least 500 years ago as a boundary tree for the old Pierrepont Estate.
As you marvel at this wonderful tree, you’ll notice that growing alongside it, is a prickly evergreen shrub. This is ‘butcher’s broom’ and the plant was named after the butchers that used to use it to scrape down their chopping boards. This plant is special because it’s very rare on the common, and can be used to tell the age of woodland; it’s sometimes referred to as an ancient woodland indicator.
To ensure that all our old trees flourish and hopefully survive another hundred years, we’ve removed all the other trees from around their drip-line (the tips of the furthest branch).
Trees like our old oak provide very good habitats for all kinds of different wildlife, such as invertebrates and nesting birds.
Tim Mockridge, Area Ranger