Befriend a Tree

Do you want to be able to continue walking with trees in the Astley Ainslie, the most
complete Victorian urban landscape in South Edinburgh where there are 1700 trees with 60 different species, and several of them are over 100 years old?

Well if you care, get involved. And one way to do that is to befriend a tree. Choose your own special tree in the Astley Ainslie and keep an eye on it. You will enjoy learning more about trees, and also increase the chances that your tree won’t be cut down when the NHS leaves the site. It would be great if generations to come can enjoy the trees in the Astley Ainslie.

Below are a selection of leaflets you can download and print with specific information about species to be found in the Astley Ainslie grounds:


Giant Redwood

Suggestions for looking out for your tree

Make friends with a tree and rediscover our natural connection. Choose a tree, spend time observing and thinking about it, and document how it changes during the seasons. Come back and visit it over and again to see what it is like at different times of the year, in the rain or a gale as well as in the sunshine. You can be factual or fantastic – what is it like to be a tree?

  • Start a notebook, journal or scrapbook
  • Draw or paint it, or make a rubbing of its bark
  • Write a poem or sing a song about it

When does it bud? When does it break into leaf, flower, and develop seeds? When do the nuts drop from your tree and when do its leaves change colour and finally drop to the ground, forming a deep carpet beneath the tree? You could also think about:

  • When was it planted, and was it connected with any historical events?
  • What is its height and spread, and its girth (the diameter of its trunk)
  • What birds, mammals and insects does it support?
  • Does it look healthy?

Engage with your tree. Check out Peter Wohlleben’s book (Wohlleben, P. (2015). The Hidden Life of Trees. What they feel, how they communicate.) find out what dramas are being played out around your tree, and find out about its social network.

  • Slow down, breathe deep, and look around
  • What can you hear? What do you see? How do you feel?

Record any information you want. These are just suggestions. Our knowledge and experience of nature is now slender. We need to recreate the understanding that we are only a part of nature, and wholly dependent upon it for our lives, health and well-being, and even our survival.

Please feel free to leave comments about your activities below.


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