“Trees Be Company” Dorchester’s Urban Tree Festival: 17th – 23rd May 2021

For the second time, Dorchester took part in the national Urban Tree Festival under the theme of “Trees Be Company”, the title of one of William Barnes’ poems. The Festival ran from Monday 17th to Sunday 23rd May and all the events and activities were online due the outbreak of Covid-19.

We arranged the following activities or events each day of the Festival:
  • Tree Quiz. A daily challenge invited people to identify a tree in Dorchester from photographs of, for example, it’s flowers, leaves and bark.
  • ‘Meet the Giants’. A daily guide to one of the ‘Great Trees of Dorchester’ – great in terms of it’s size or unusual character. People were invited to nominate their own favourite, and to let us know of any large trees in town that we might have missed.
Festival activities and events:
  • An A-Z of trees in Dorchester. There was no guarantee we could do this in Dorchester for all 26 letters of the alphabet but you might be interested to see what we have come up with…!
  • My favourite tree. We invited people to tell us which tree in Dorchester was their favourite so we could share a map showing the locations of everyone’s special tree in town. And we asked 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. Here we described some walks around the town where you can be in the company of some wonderful trees. We invited people to let us know their own favourite place in Dorchester where they felt “Trees Be Company”.
  • Poet-Tree. Here we shared some of our favourite poems about trees. We invited people to write and share their own poems on a woody theme.
  • ‘Trees for Bees‘. We invited people 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.
  • Tree Thought for the Day’. Here we shared an interesting quote about how we benefit from the trees around us and encouraged others to share their favourite quotes or facts about trees.
  • Locations where new trees could be planted. We invited people to suggest places around Dorchester where more trees could be planted to enhance the urban landscape and to provide shelter and homes for wildlife.
  • A ‘Sowing of Ideas. Here we shared some of the ideas for more trees and hedgerows around Dorchester that are beginning to emerge – a contribution to a green recovery after the pandemic.
  • Future events. We invited 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.

The title of the Festival, “Trees Be Company”, comes from one of William Barnes’ (1801-86) poems written in the Dorset dialect. The whole poem can be read here – try reading it aloud with the Dorset dialect of the time. 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.”

In 2021, the Urban Tree Festival in Dorchester was hosted by Transition Town Dorchester.