Seo agus Siud Edition 12     November 2021           

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With constant reminders during Covid-19 of the struggles Covid sufferers have had with breathing, this story I heard recently about an oak tree held particular resonance for me.

The oak tree in question is in Kew Gardens, South West London. It is named after Spencer Turner who raised it in 1798 as a hybrid, a combination of 2 trees. Today it can only be reproduced by grafting so it is a precious tree. Kew Gardens is home to trees representing all corners of the world.  

By Dympna O’Daly

Tony Kirkhan, is head of the Arboretum there and he shares this hope-filled story.

On 16th October 1987, there was a huge storm in the South East of England. Many trees were lost and in Kew Gardens the loss was substantial, 700 trees in total.  

Following the storm, the gardeners went to inspect the damage and one tree they went to was the Turner Oak. As expected the oak tree had been affected. It was as if the storm had lifted the great tree out of the ground and sat it back down. The decision was made to prop up and support the tree knowing that it would not survive the ordeal. Three years later, they returned to chop down the tree expecting it to have died. However, to their utter astonishment, the tree was healthy with lots of leaves.


So, in light of this development they did some research and found out that the roots of this tree spread very wide and are quite shallow in the ground.  The constant walking of people around had trampled the ground and compacted the soil so there was a depletion of air and nutrients. The storm had loosened the roots so that the tree could receive oxygen, water and nutrients again. It could breathe again, restoring life to the depleted tree.

Trees are the lungs of the world. Tony believes we have to copy nature, go with it. Trees are like people for whom each breath is vital.

“Come from the four winds, breath;

Breathe on these dead, so that they come to life”. Ezekiel 37:9


Turner’s Oak

Kew Gardens

Turner’s Oak Tree

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