Type of tree:
St John the Evangelist Church
Do dinosaurs still roam the Earth? It would be easy to think so, here in our mysterious glacial landscape of meres and mosses in Shropshire. Shrouded in myth and legend, the parish of St John the Evangelist, Lyneal with Colemere, has its roots firmly in ancient history.
The present church is Victorian, a pale sandstone building of elegant simplicity, with a churchyard and woodland attached, set among farmland, overlooking Colemere Mere and Country Park. Not all the people in our community attend church; but we are a community that comes together regularly for social events, whether village or church led. At Colemere church we have made a commitment to this environment, managing the church grounds sympathetically for wildlife and creating an area of woodland. The community is also pledged to the conservation, development and protection of our local wildlife. So there was great excitement when it was announced that we had been honoured with a Jubilee Diamond Tree, to be planted in the churchyard, overlooking the mere. A tree that will be a symbol of our whole community’s caring commitment to the beautiful landscape — and a brilliant and lasting way to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. In the cold, dark days of February 2013, we began to plan our ceremony as a Family Fun Day for all the community.
We chose our tree and set the event date for 23rd March. We came together regularly for planning meetings, and began to publicise our event in local schools, to community groups and through the local press and radio. Shropshire Wildlife Meres and Mosses Landscape Partnership offered to run outdoor activities; the local Scout leader offered the help of the Cubs; the church community planned the indoor activities, the refreshments and a wildlife trail around the church buildings and grounds; and VIPs had accepted invitations to attend our planting ceremony. We were all set up, with the hole ready for the waiting tree and the cakes baked – and it began to snow.
By the morning of the 23rd, the snow was eight inches deep and still falling. The worst March snowfall for 30 years meant that Lyneal and Colemere were cut off, our special guests were unable to be with us, and the Fun Day had to be called off. A few of us managed to struggle down to church that afternoon and to dig the snow away from the planting hole. Then with considerably less ceremony than originally planned, we planted our tree, gave a couple of speeches, took some pictures and warmed up with mulled wine and cake in the church. The children who saw the tree planted, and those who took part in our Fun Day – postponed to the summer – when they learned the importance of the tree, will own the next part of this story.
And what did we plant? A Ginkgo biloba, a tree that existed in the time of the dinosaurs and survived the ice age which created our landscape here in Lyneal and Colemere. This special tree is our living legend, with its roots in the past, its branches reaching out to the future and its very existence reminding us of our duty to the present. A dinosaur lives again in Colemere!
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