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13 trees are on the shortlist to win the U.K.'s Tree of the Year Contest

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Voting is open in the United Kingdom's Tree of the Year contest. Thirteen trees are on the shortlist, but only one can win. Jack Taylor is with the Woodland Trust, the charity that runs the competition.

JACK TAYLOR: We've got some really good ones this year, so there is one called the Crouch Oak in Surrey. It's a really magnificent specimen. We think potentially 700 years old, and it's said that Queen Elizabeth I once picnicked under its branches.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Another finalist is a sweet chestnut in London's Greenwich Park.

TAYLOR: Sweet chestnut trees, as they sort of grow older, their bark is amazing. It's sort of kind of twists round the tree and makes them sort of extra gnarly and extra ancient and old looking.

MARTÍNEZ: Taylor says this year's contest is celebrating urban trees like his personal favorite, the Grantham Oak.

TAYLOR: Which is in Grantham Lincolnshire, which is my hometown, and it's probably about seven meters in girth. We think it's probably about 500 years old. And it's surrounded by a lot of development, and I think a lot of people probably pass it without recognizing its value every day. But it's a really mighty specimen in the suburbs of Grantham that I'm really sort of kind of gunning for it to be the winner this year.

INSKEEP: And he's hoping that winner will endure.

TAYLOR: It's in really rare circumstances that we would see a winner sort of facing the chop. Back in 2015, the Covington Pear Tree was nominated and won for England's Tree of the Year. Unfortunately, it was then felled as part of the high-speed two rail developments.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, for most trees, publicity can help prevent such a fate.

TAYLOR: I think being able to get these trees the recognition that they deserve is vitally important for us, and it helps us sort of kind of boost the protection that they do have.

MARTÍNEZ: The U.K.'s Tree of the Year will be crowned on October 19, and then it's on to the European Tree of the Year competition.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTÍNEZ: Steve, I think you're the oak of NPR. Is there an American tree that you'd like to nominate?

INSKEEP: Yes, the maple tree in my mom's side yard. It's as old as the house - 60 years or so. I used to climb it when I was a kid. And it had those little - you know, those propeller seeds that would fly down.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah.

INSKEEP: Yeah. I mean, I really love that tree, and it's still there today. But we will have to leaf this discussion for another time.

MARTÍNEZ: (Laughter). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.