I planted these five oak saplings in 2018. They were given as acorns as a beautiful gift from my dear friend Cathy whilst I was going through a period of personal crisis. She said they were to represent me and my siblings and are a way for me to learn how to nurture myself, my family and therefore all beings.
Without my knowing, she had collected the acorns from the garden of the house I grew up in when I took her on a trip there. A few weeks later, she presented me with a pot with five pebbles on top. When I asked what it was she instructed me to wait and see what happend. Sure enough five shoots appeared and developed characteristic Oak leaves. This is when she shared the source and intention.
I nurtured the shoots into saplings and nurtured my relationship with my terminally ill brother, including spending a memorable holiday with him in St Ives. I discovered having a brother is a divine thing and to spend time with someone who's life story is almost interchangeable to one's own is as close to meeting yourself in real life.
When Phil died in 2018, I decided it was time to get them out of their individual pots so they could connect with each other and with the other life in soil via the mycorrhizal network. This seemed good for the trees and good symbolically.
I asked Will Chester-Master, the owner of Harebushes Wood, if I could plant them there and he was delighted, particularly because of the story that goes with them and because he loves trees. He helped me plant them along with my wife Katie and mother-in-law, Julia.
The trees now form a small grove that acts as a focus when I need to reflect on life. I have bumped my mum along in a wheelchair to see them, shown them to my sister Cath when she visited from Australia and have taken friends there to show and explain.
It really was a deeply beautiful thing for Cathy to do and with such a long and growing story.
They are not my trees, they are 'the trees' trees' and will have a life long after mine. The story that goes with them is mine and it is a rich one that gathers interest every year.