Meet Lucombe Oak: Bristol's Tree of the Year

December 19 2018
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THE winner of the inaugural Bristol Tree Forum's Tree of the Year competition is the Lucombe Oak, submitted by the community group We Love Stoke Lodge.

 The Lucombe Oak was a clear winner with 584 votes out of the 1,269 confirmed votes cast for the eleven entries.

The Lucombe Oak is a cross between a Turkey Oak and a Cork Oak. It was first raised by an Exeter nurseryman, William Lucombe, in 1762. It is unusual in the fact that it keeps its leaves over winter. The story goes that William Lucombe was so attached to his special oak that he felled the original specimen to provide wood for his own coffin and kept the boards under his bed until he died. However, he lived an exceptionally long life, dying at the age of 102 years, by which time the planks had decayed in the Devon damp. To quote an article from Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, this showed ‘that Lucombe knew more about growing trees than preserving them'. On his death timber from one of his early propagations was used to make his coffin instead. 

We Love Stoke Lodge is an informal community group of local residents based around Stoke Lodge, a 26-acre park and recreational area in Stoke Bishop in the north-west of Bristol. A spokesperson for the group commented:

“Notwithstanding the tree’s fascinating history, so many of our community hold treasured memories of this tree dating back over four generations. At a recent community picnic those in their nineties sat alongside primary school children of today talking about the best picnics they have had under our beloved tree and sharing tips on how to climb it wonderful branches. 

“This tree is the meeting point for many sports and well-being groups. Its branches shade baby groups, yoga classes, families and friends from the sun (and the rain) every day – as it has done for hundreds of years! This tree is a not just located in the centre of our community, it is part of it.”

The runner-up is the Brislington Brook Plane Tree, with 399 votes and submitted by Friends of Brislington Brook, a community group which works to enhance and look after the green spaces that are Nightingale Valley and St Annes Wood. 

Other local trees that were entered into the competition were The Cotham Walrus Tree, the Downs Hawthorn and St Andrews Park Lombardy Poplar.

Bristol Tree Forum would like to thank all those who submitted a nominee: “We were delighted to receive such a varied and eclectic range of wonderful and inspiring trees, both living and dead. An inspiration for next year's competition.

“Our congratulations to the winner and the runner-up and thank you to all those who voted.”

For more information about the competition and the votes cast for each entry, click on this link - Bristol Tree of the Year 2018