“Trees Be Company” Dorchester’s Urban Tree Festival: 16th – 24th May 2020

For the first time, Dorchester will be taking part in the national Urban Tree Festival under the theme of “Trees Be Company”, the title of one of William Barnes’ poems. The Festival will run from Saturday 16th to Sunday 24th May and all the events and activities will be online due the the current outbreak of Coronavirus.

Daily activities and events

We hope to arrange the following activities or events each day of the Festival:

  • Tree Quiz. Can you identify a tree in Dorchester from photographs of, for example, it’s flowers, leaves and bark..?
  • ‘Tree Thought for the Day’. We will share an interesting quote about how we benefit from the trees around us and will encourage you to share your favourite quotes or facts about trees.
  • ‘Meet the Giants’. A daily guide to one of the ‘Great Trees of Dorchester’ – great in terms of it’s size or unusual character. You will be invited to nominate your own favourite, and to let us know of any large trees in town that we might have missed.

Main Festival activities and events

  • An A-Z of trees in Dorchester. There is no guarantee we can do this in Dorchester for all 26 letters of the alphabet but it will be interesting to see what we can come up with…!
  • My favourite tree. Let us know which tree is your favourite in Dorchester so we can share a map showing the locations of everyone’s special tree in town. And please let us know if your tree has a it’s own name, perhaps one given by you or by your family eg. The Beacon Sycamore, or the Copper Beech at Beech Court.
  • Tree Trails around Dorchester. We will describe some walks around the town where you can be in the company of some wonderful trees. We might even chalk the names of some of the trees to look out for on the pavements…! You will be invited to describe your own favourite place in Dorchester where you feel “Trees Be Company”.
  • Poet-Tree. We will share some of our favourite poems about trees over the week and will invite you to write and share your own poems on a woody theme. Perhaps you could film yourself performing your poem and share the film with others joining in the Festival..?
  • Trees for Bees‘. We will invite you to add to our map of the apple and other fruit trees around Dorchester. We hope this map will show if the bees can find a way across the town in spring by flying from one source of nectar to another.
  • Locations where new trees could be planted. We will invite you to suggest places around Dorchester where more trees could be planted to enhance the urban landscape and to provide shelter and homes for wildlife.
  • Future events. We will invite everyone to suggest other tree-based celebrations and events that we could arrange in the future, for example an Apple Day in October, a Tree Dressing Day and events during National Tree Week in November.

“Trees Be Company” is one of William Barnes’ (1801-86) poems written in the Dorset dialect. The last verse reads:

“When dusky night do nearly hide
  The path along the hedge’s zide,
  An’ dailight’s hwomely sounds be still
  But sounds o’ water at the mill;
  Then if noo feäce we long’d to greet
    Could come to meet our lwonesome treäce
  Or if noo peäce o’ weary veet,
    However fleet, could reach its pleäce–
      However lwonesome we mid be,
    The trees would still be company.”

The whole poem can be read here try reading it aloud with the Dorset dialect of the time.

In 2020, the Urban Tree Festival in Dorchester was hosted by Transition Town Dorchester.

The Judas Tree (Cercis siliquastrum) in flower in the garden behind Holy Trinity Church on High East Street, Dorchester

6 thoughts on ““Trees Be Company” Dorchester’s Urban Tree Festival: 16th – 24th May 2020

  • May 14, 2020 at 9:59 am

    What a wonderful idea for a Festival.
    In Chapter 4 of “The Mayor of Casterbridge”, Elizabeth-Jane, observing the town from a distance, says.
    “What an old-fashioned place it seems to be ! It is huddled altogether; and it is shut in by a square wall of trees, like a plot of garden ground by a box-edging.” She is referring to the Walks which mark the line of the Roman wall built around their town of Durnovaria.

    • May 14, 2020 at 12:26 pm

      Thank you Alistair. I hope the Festival will feature some of Thomas Hardy’s poems that refer to trees in and around his home town – do you have any favourite poems that feature trees?

  • May 16, 2020 at 9:07 am

    This is a great festival and I will do my best to let local people know about it.
    This has to be my favourite Hardy paragraph in regards to Hardy and Trees, it is the opening paragraph of Under the Greenwood Tree

    To dwellers in a wood almost every species of tree has its voice as well as its feature. At the passing of the breeze the fir-trees sob and moan no less distinctly than they rock; the holly whistles as it battles with itself; the ash hisses amid its quiverings; the beech rustles while its flat boughs rise and fall. And winter, which modifies the note of such trees as shed their leaves, does not destroy its individuality.

    • May 16, 2020 at 4:45 pm

      Many thanks Claire, it’s great to have your support. I love the passage you have shared from ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’. I will add it to the appropriate page in the next few days.

    • May 16, 2020 at 5:02 pm

      Many thanks Jackie, I hope you enjoy the Festival as much as we do putting it together!


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