I chose the tree, I measured its height and approximated its age, I showed it in the landscape… I took several portrait and personality shots… what else can I say at this stage? Because, you see, my sweet chestnut tree isn’t doing anything.
That’s not true, of course, because a lot is happening inside my trees at the moment – I just can’t see it. Trees are preparing for the new season. The sap is rising. Root pressure is sending water, food and messages up the tree and as the weather warms and the days grow longer, transpiration will aid root pressure to provide the long-distance impetus to get the tree ready for a new year’s growth.
So, not so much what’s left to say? but more, where do I stop?
We estimate our tree to be about 200 years old but they will live till they are 700+ years old.
They’re good for wildlife – vital for our bees both from a pollen and a nectar (therefore honey) point of view – but chestnuts are also useful for a wide variety of insects, birds – and even provide a nice winter home for gastropods!
Chestnuts are good value commercially – around here, they’re a hedgerow crop. Many are harvested every 20 or so years by coppicing.
The better quality wood is then used – or sold – for fencing posts, paling fences, rustic garden gates because it is rot-resistant even without being treated. And it is also used for firewood.
Our next-door neighbour has been felling chestnuts at the edge of his field this year and some of the harvest will be providing winter heat in his 89-year-old mother’s wood-burning stove in a few years time after the wood has seasoned.
Younger wood will turn into planks successfully and is a beautiful, warm golden colour providing beautiful, long-lasting floorboards. Chestnut wood can generally be used in the same way as oak.
The fruit is edible – but a bit over-rated in my opinion. And at some point, I need to explain the difference between our sweet chestnut tree and ‘marrons’, the large chestnuts which are the type best used for roasting. But France, looking for as many uses as possible for all edible fruits, has come up with a use for chestnuts that I’ve not tried… but must do so one day!
Here endeth my first official Tree Following post…