The hardy British Oak is rightly seen as one of the quintessential trees of the Isles. It has given us ships for Trafalgar, provided a famous hiding place for a King and for a band of Merry Outlaws alike. Its leaf is the symbol of the National Trust and roads are re-directed around the older ones to protect them. The wood is very hardy and has been used to build our homes, furniture and garden constructions for hundreds of years. One of the many examples of what can be made is a beautiful Oak porch to adorn your home. They can be viewed at http://www.bespoaktimberframes.co.uk/portfolio_page/oak-porch/ and show how this mighty wood can make a stunning addition. How does one of these incredibly useful tree’s grow and how long does it take and what do we know about them?
The Oak is a deciduous tree which means that it sheds its leaves in the autumn time and basically goes to sleep over the winter months before coming out into full leaf again in the summer. They have a thick trunk with branches that stem out to cover a wide canopy, the branches are very sturdy and perfect for climbing! They still allow for light to come through to the forest floor, so you’ll see a carpet of bluebells and primroses underneath them come the spring time. Oaks grow quite quickly to start with, at least for the first 120 years, then they start to slow down once established. They will last for hundreds of years.
After 40 years they will start to produce their seeds known as acorns. This is a blessing for many creatures mostly deer’s and badgers. Its not only these species that are cared for by the Oak. They also provide a rich habitat for a variety of life and are a source of food and shelter to the UK’s woodland wildlife all year round.
The myth of the oak dates back to Roman times when the crowns of triumphant Emperors were the assembled leaves of the oak tree made into wreaths. It’s also believed that Zeus the head of the Greek Gods also considered the Oak tree special and blessed it. We have certainly made use of the tree in this country. We have already mentioned its use as building material, porches in particular, and this is still going on, its use for roof beams remain popular. It was the wood that built the British Navy, being so hard that cannon balls would bounce off its hull until the birth of the Ironclad made them obsolete. It’s also brilliant for barrels, effecting the flavour of the liquid, especially wine. It’s an excellent flooring choice and it makes for great slow burning large amount of heat producing firewood.