The Dorchester Trees initiative started in December 2019, partly in response to concern over the climate and extinction emergency but also to share the natural wonder that trees can inspire in each of us and to celebrate all the benefits they give us throughout the year.

We hope this website will become a source of news and inspiration, wonder and delight, curiosity and creativity – all starting with the trees in and around Dorchester. We would love to think that more people will be inspired to explore, and so get closer to, the trees and woods near to where they live, to identify favourite trees they might greet each day, perhaps to give names to the trees that bring them comfort and help with their well-being.

Winter is a great time to look closely at the amazing tree trunks and the form of the main branches. A wonderful example is the Beacon Sycamore, so called as it stands proudly next to the Fire Beacon on Salisbury Field in Dorchester.

I visited Dorchester many times when my work brought me to Dorset in the early 1980s, but it wasn’t until I moved to Dorchester in 2018 did I discover it’s wonderful heritage of trees. At this time, I became aware of the desperate struggles of some residents in Sheffield as they tried to prevent the large-scale felling of apparently healthy street trees in their city. This, together with an increasing awareness of the way that trees can help us tackle the climate and extinction emergency, prompted me to take an interest in the trees in Dorchester.

I trained as a botanist in the 1970s, and as a landscape architect in the early 1980s. For most of my working life, I have worked with farmers and land managers, encouraging them to see how they can make more space for wildlife alongside their land-based business. I have long been a big fan of the Dorset-based charity, Common Ground, admiring how they promote the importance of locality and our common culture, and their emphasis on the cultural, aesthetic and emotional bonds we develop with the places in which we live.

“In 2016, Common Ground launched ‘Tree Tales’ in Exeter. Inspired by the history, folklore and memories that have woven themselves into the branches of individual trees across the country, with a group of volunteers, we began to map this one city’s living tree culture. And we were overwhelmed by the stories that came flooding in.”
From an article on Tree Tales on Common Ground’s website.