Posts Tagged ‘cathedrals’

Wooden Wonders part seven: beech, by Kate Cashmore

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, is full of magnificent trees.

As part of our half term Wooden Wonders event taking place from 14 – 16 February, Kate Cashmore from Westonbirt’s learning team has created a trail which will help you find out about our hidden wonders.

Here, she highlights some of the Wooden Wonders that you can discover when you follow the trail.

The lovely smooth bark of beech trees is thin, leaving the living tissue underneath easily damaged by animals and sunburn.

14 April 2011 Beech at top of Jackson

Trees growing alone usually have many low leafy branches to protect the trunk from light.

The wood is fairly easy to work, and is very strong. It lasts well underwater and so, in the past, was used for ships and the supports of bridges and even cathedrals. It is also good for spoons, brush handles and piano frames.

Beech makes a good fire too. This poem is all about how well other woods burn:

Beechwood fires are bright and clear.
If the logs are kept a year;     
Chestnut only good they say,                          
If for long it’s laid away;                              
Make a fire of elder tree,
Death within your house shall be.                  
But ash new or ash old,                      
Is fit for Queen with crown of gold. 

Birch and fir logs burn too fast,               
Blaze up bright and do not last;                      
It is by the Irish said   
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread;   
Elmwood burns like churchyard mould —-   
E’en the very flames are cold.           
But ash green or ash brown,              
Is fit for Queen with golden crown.

Poplar gives a bitter smoke,           
Fills your eyes and makes you choke;           
Apple wood will scent your room,            
With incense-like perfume.                       
Oaken logs, if dry and old,           
Will keep away the winter’s cold;            
But ash wet or ash dry                 
A king shall warm his slippers by.

(Anon)

Useful links
Find out more about the Wooden Wonders event
Buy great value Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum membership
More great activities for families