When I was young my parents took me to America to see some of the wonders of the world.
We visited Yosemite and the Grand Canyon, which were wonderful places and I also vividly remember Bryce Canyon where we saw rocks shaped like a poodle, or Queen Victoria.
But one of the things that sticks in my mind the most is the Giant Redwood Trees – the giant sequoia. These trees are amazing, very old and extremely large. Somewhere I have a photo of my dad standing in front of one. I used to show people the photo of this magnificant tree and they’d be admiring, until I pointed out Dad standing at the bottom – he looked like a toy!
Then there was a Redwood that had a huge gap through the bottom, big enough to drive a car through! I fell in love with those trees and since then I’ve always loved almost all trees. Perhaps not Leyland Cypress, but most others.
Actually even Leyland Cypress have their good side. Birds seem to like them, especially pigeons, but they do have a mind of their own and grow very very fast. We made the mistake of planting several in our (admittedly large) garden, and over the years they have completely taken over. It doesn’t take long, so beware if you ever feel tempted to plant them. But if you want a quick-growing hedge and are prepared to trim it each year, then it may all work out well.
Back to the Redwoods though. The whole family fell in love with these magnificant trees and Mum bought a packet of seeds to plant in the UK. She managed to raise 4 or 5 of them, much to her surprise. We had one, but unfortunately the top was accidentally cut off when we had some Leyland Cypress topped. They don’t like that! It died pretty soon after, which was such a shame.
Another was adopted by my cousin but he planted it too close to his house, so that didn’t last long either since they grow pretty fast.
A third was planted by my parents but I think that blew over in strong winds, and I don’t know what happened to the other two. Really they belong in the wilds of California and Nevada, where they can grow and spread to their hearts’ content.
But there are a few around in Sussex. One is quite close to Gatwick. You can see it from the main road as it towers above all the other trees. And I think there may be some more mature examples that were planted by Victorian gardeners.
If you ever get a chance to go to see the Sequoias, it’s well worth the trip. But there are two types: coastal sequoias, which are still great, and the giant sequoias, which are the masters of all they survey.