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The limbs of these mature trees on Birdcage Walk or in Great Dib Wood throw some dramatic shapes - they're simply magnificent. Their foliage is just one part of the varied palette of gorgeous greens on the spring Chevin as you look up from town. I like the beech even more now I know how it will defend itself and alert other trees when under attack. Apparently the saliva of deer stimulates the production of foul-tasting tannin in the leaves; furthermore, it will prompt similar responses in other trees by sending messages via its roots and fungal chords below ground - a "wood wide web" of communication. For more on plant "neurobiology" check out the link to the work of Stefano Mancuso below. Then there's the Copper Beech with its distinctive leaves: my favourite is at the north end of the White Bridge, but there's one in the cemetery whose twisted trunk is like a Freud nude with its curves, twists and bulges.


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Masthead photography courtesy of Mark Denton

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