Posted by: travelrat | June 20, 2017

Travel Theme: Seeds

In the playground of the primary school I used to attend was a walled-off enclosure called the Fir Garden. It contained not a fir, but a tree known as a Wellingtonia, What we knew about it was only that it had a thick, spongy bark that enabled us to punch it without hurting ourselves, and the cones made great hand grenades for a game of soldiers.

During one of these games, the teacher came out, and showed us a miniscule seed that had fallen from one of the cones.

‘Take a look at this seed’ she invited ‘and think! This huge tree grew from this tiny seed!’

We called this tree a Wellingtonia, after the 2nd Duke of Wellington, who imported the first cuttings, named them after his father and grew them on his estate at Stratfield Saye, in Hampshire. Its botanical name is Sequoia Gigantea, and it’s native to the mountains of California, and is known by various names; the Giant Sequoia, the Sierra Redwood … or simply the Big Tree.

The Big Tree wasn’t imported into Britain until 1857, so the ones we have here are mere juveniles; they can live for over 3000 years. So, a tree that was already well grown when Jesus walked the earth? This has to be seen … and, preferably, without a tunnel cut through it so a car can be driven through, which was popular with many photographic magazines (including, to their shame, the National Geographic Magazine!) of the 1920s and 1930s.

It’s rather far down the bucket list at the moment … but, although a fully-grown Big Tree contains a greater volume of wood than any other, it’s not only the size that’s a source of wonder. It’s the fact that such a mammoth grew from a seed about the size of your little fingernail.

Sequoia

This week’s contribution to the Travel Theme. More at https://wheresmybackpack.com/2017/06/19/travel-theme-seeds/

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