The Woodland Trust recently announced the shortlist of trees chosen to compete for the UK’s Tree of the Year competition. This year’s entries include the original Bramley apple tree from Southwell in Nottinghamshire, a Mulberry bush in west Yorkshire that is said to have been the inspiration for the nursery rhyme ‘Here we go round the Mulberry Bush’ and a tree in Brighton which caused the local council to redraw road plans after campaigners called for it not to be felled. The Tree of the Year competition was open to entries from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and a panel of experts in each country considered nearly 200 public nominations. Ten trees were chosen from England and six from each of the other countries. Ancient trees are often seen as symbols of strength, longevity and even wisdom and this year’s list also offers symbolism: the Wesley Beeches in Northern Ireland are said to be the result of John Wesley twisting two beech saplings together to symbolise the connection between the Anglican Church and the new Methodist movement, whilst a serene looking copper beech tree in a school playground in Scotland is said to bring calm to the children. The list also has local interest with the inclusion of King John’s oak, from Shute Park in East Devon. According to the Umborne Community website, the oak has a girth of over 10 metres and is more than 800 years old. It is said that King John, who died exactly 800 years ago in October 1216, planted the original acorn whilst out hunting in the park. His holdings included the manor of Axminster. The public is now invited to vote for their favourite tree in each region before October 10th and each winning tree will get a grant of £1,000, with any tree reaching over 1,000 votes receiving a grant of £500. King John’s oak deserves a bit of support, so visit the woodlandtrust.org.uk website to cast your vote. As an added bonus, the winning trees will also be put forward to the European Tree of the Year competition in early 2017. Past winners since 2011 were Romania, Hungary (twice), Bulgaria, Estonia and this year Hungary won again. Let’s hope we can rely on lots of European votes for a British winner next year.