Sunday, 15 May 2011

A Relationship With Trees

When I was in the Cesky Raj - Bohemian Paradise - I passed this old tree on the side of the road and had to stop and take this photograph. For the Czechs the old limetree merits a wooden roof to protect its stump, a sign and to be marked on the map. But a cursory examination of most Czech maps will find 'significant' trees - 'dub' (oak), lipa (lime) etc.

I have been unable to find out any real significance in these trees, other than they are usually old and so have been a feature in the landscape for several generations - this tree is about 280 years old.Yes, we Brits do on occasion preserve trees but usually they have some historical or at least legendary claim on our thoughts and time. When I contrast the Czech veneration for these trees to British attitudes it seems so much greater.

As I have said in previous posts the forest plays an important part in the Czech psyche and I think this tree veneration is part of this. But in the case of limes - they are a symbol of nationhood. The limetree is the national tree and linked to the legendary founder of the Czech nation Queen Libuse. My research into the life of Czech religious reformer Jan Hus (John Huss) reveals that he reputedly preached regularly under trees. These trees or what is left of them are now of course significant.


Philip Wilkinson said...

This is fascinating. I think Britons once had much closer relationships with trees, though not to the point of mapping 'significant trees' in this way. The topographical writer Arthur Mee, author of the 'King's England' series of books, often noted particularly large or old trees in towns and villages, and frequently recorded the girth of an old yew or oak. A tape measure must have been among the equipment he carried around with him.

McCabeandco said...

I too have noticed this. If you get to Telc, please don't forget to visit the giant hollow Lipa you find there in the castle gardens. I love this Czech tradition! The signs seem like they are bestowing honarary titles on their most loved of trees. Love your photos by the way, thank you!!


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