Give and Take
The cedar trees planted in the lawns around the castle, as well as across the parkland, are not native British trees. The cones were brought back to Highclere by the 18th century traveller Richard Pococke who had admired these extraordinary trees in their native Middle East and collected as many cones as he could carry to bring home.
In their native Lebanon, and other dry Eastern Mediterranean countries, these ancient trees formed extraordinary forests where they were once the wonder of the world, hence their name Cedrus Lebani although sadly they are significantly reduced in number these days. There are three other variations as well : Cedrus deodara, atlantica & brevifoilia.
Due to the British climate, cedar trees grow rather well here, almost more so than in their native forests, spreading their branches above green lawns, majestic, large and really very high. There are consequences, though, to this enthusiastic growth: during the strong British wintery winds, their height and the massive branches full of evergreen needles mean that they can get whipped around making the limbs crack and break. In such weather they recall fearful lines:
“ Blow winds and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!” (King Lear)
In the winter landscape, oaks and beech stand silhouetted in their bareness but the cedars offer us some colour – that lovely strong dark green. As January winds rise and fall, their branches relax and move with the gales which we have been having ample experience of over the past two weeks. Neither they nor us can fight the weather but both somehow adapt, it is about give and take.
Newly planted trees are more likely to survive than their older brethren as they have fewer branches. Like any other sapling, at first they seem to stand entirely still in terms of growth as their roots begin to find their way through the earth. In recent years we have planted several such young trees to replace those that have fallen and it is easy to become impatient with the timescale when you remember the majestic size of the previous trees. Pausing to look more closely though, I can see how the young trunks are thickening, gaining immunity to disease and other challenges from their other older neighbouring specimens through linked mitochondria.
As for all of us, it is not just a matter of growing taller but growing well with latter of almost more importance than the former. There need not a be a hurry. To survive, you need strong roots and a sturdy base.
For many, trees such as these are simply seen as a nice frame for a photo or useful shade to sit under in the summer, to enjoy their special atmosphere or to sit and stare upwards as they sway in the wind. Even the sheep or horses at Highclere find them useful for that. But without these extraordinary trees, our landscape here would be a poorer place. They provide an iconic silhouette that matches that of the castle itself.
And then there is the wood they provide, what they give: fragrant and long lasting. wood for building, for temples, boat building, musical instruments and decoration inside and out.
In general we use wood for homes, for logs, tools, weapons and paper. It is an extraordinary resource, one that gives and one we take. Above all trees allow us to breathe and as such should never be taken for granted.
Lovely the pictures of Give and Take and did you and lord Carnarvon have a lovely weekend and lovely to visit highcelere castle and lam fan of Downton abbey and happy new year 2023
My dear Lady, how did you manage to “get-up-the-tree”? I am all for loving and hugging trees, and your Cedars of Lebanon are majestic, I remember being in awe during my Spring visit in 2015. Thank you for taking us around the castle grounds once more, and your one dog is so nice and lordly under the tree.
Lady C: Your Monday topics and photos never fail to surprise, delight, and inform me with your Monday topics.
I once sat next to a gentleman at a formal dinner (a small little ‘do” for 800 diners) at Clos de Vougeot, set in the middle of an enormous vineyard in Burgundy. At the end of the extravaganza, he turned to me and said, “The only person I’m ever happy to sit beside at any dinner party is someone who makes me laugh – and teaches me something. You have done both.”
While I have sometimes laughed aloud at something funny you’ve written or at a unique photo, I have ALWAYS learned from your writing.
Thank you for allowing me to “sit beside you” every Monday at breakfast in SW Alabama.
Do you know I am in Alabama in March?
What a lovely tribute to God’s gift of strength, endurance, and comfort these beautiful trees bestow upon mankind. I so enjoy your articles. Thank you for your hard work.
Marsha Williams Darnell
I can almost smell the cedar in my mind. This an interesting story of how these lovely trees grow on your home grounds in a somewhat less than a normal Lebanese climate! But the millions of years in which our climate has changed has played its part. I’m so glad Mr. Pococke had the idea of transporting them to Highclere. Speaks well of his forethought and imagination!
Happy New Year, Lady Carnarvon. So much like our children…”strong roots and a sturdy base”. Do these trees propagate on there own?
The cedars of God as they are called in the Bible grow in the mountains at 3000 meters altitude in Lebanon which is not a dry country but full of water and snow. They are in the village of Beshareh where Gibran Khalil Gibran was born.
There is a project of planting thousands of cedars every year and you can adopt a cedar to fund the new trees. Some grow on their own but the first years are crucial for them to survive. They have to be watered and protected from animals especially goats that eat the young plants.
The feeling that large trees gives us must be in us from ancient times, the instinctive feeling of being protected.
The sound of a chainsaw always puts me on edge!!
Have a lovely day, and thank you for your blog, always evocative..
“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the skies.”
For some reason iv always had a passion for trees, they are so majestic especially the ones growing on your lawn. The story you have told has made them more real, its hard to believe such a thing has grown from a small cone. That one tree which has been caught on camera so many times. Love it. I cant breath at thought of coming to visit in April.
Kahil Gibran is one of my favorite poets. That phrase is perfect for Lady C’s blog-email today.
~ Bon in Bama
Thank you again for another nature history lesson Monday Morning Blog. Impressive of those planted years ago on Highclere grounds have lived as long as they have. They do add beautiful scenery especially for those of us lucky to visit Highclere Castle and get a photo taken of us standing under one of the majestic cedar trees with the Castle behind us!
Remain well and hope the winter season continuing on is mild for you all there in the U.K.
Over the past week its been raining non stop!
Thank you for this morning’s wonderfully informative article on the cedar trees.
Here in California I look forward to your always interesting writings; they give me a taste of my English origin.
New Year blessings.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Such magnificent trees. I am always amazed by their beauty when I see them. Future generations of your family will be able to love the trees and be thankful that you planted them. Hopefully one day I might be able to enjoy the shade they provide. I will not be as nimble as you and climb one. Did a lot of that when in was young with the Mountain Ash tree in our back garden. We call them Dogberry trees. We need to be very thankful for the beauty of nature.
I agree nature is beautiful
Such a lovely read Thank you. I remember watching Judy Dench on BBC “My Passion For Trees” this was a wonderful program and I learned so much more on how magnificent they really are and surrounding us with everlasting beauty. In my younger years and now to this day through the spring till fall, I love too place my blanket underneath a tree sitting there quietly taking in the sounds of the leaves birds singing as they sit on thier branches, it is a time of reflection of past to present and you just, sometimes wonder what story they could tell of those that are old and grand.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
The trees are indeed magnificent. On our visits to Highclere, we sat beneath their branches just as others have done for a very long time. It is difficult to grasp just how huge they are. The photo of you gracing its branches gives a wonderful size comparison. You look so small! The question of their size always comes up in conversations on one of my Facebook Downton Abbey groups. They are a treasure.
Thank you for a very well-written, interesting blog!
What beautiful photographs (and text!)Lady C. – a lovely hommage to these magnificent trees!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
This post was incredible. It was poetic and whimsical just like the amazing trees you describe. We have a species of Cedar here in Utah, USA. They are one of my favorite trees. There is even a city in Utah named Cedar City, which is aptly named as there are a great deal of Cedar trees in and around that area. (The number of Cedar trees are deminshing due to growth in the city).
We are very fortunate here in Utah as we have many varieties of conifers and evergreen shrubs.
Keep up the inspiring job .
Lovely the pictures. Thank you
Happy New Year. fondly Jenny
We visited Highclere this summer and my daughter said her very favorite thing about our visit was the chance to see those beautiful Cedars! They are just magnificent and this is a beautiful tribute to them.
Wonderful thank you
Hello Lady Carnarvon
We had Cedric’s deodorant when I was a little girl growing up!
Amazing photographs Lady Carnarvon!
One can but ponder how u made it up into the crook of that tree to have your photograph taken!
Thankyou for the reminder of the wild weather u experience in winter. Brings to mind Vivaldi’s Four Seasons!
Central Western NSW
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
the trees are truly beautiful and the smell is amazing. If they could talk as well…..
They really are!
A marvellous blog Lady C.
I remember as a child, fairy stories whose illustrations showed trees ‘walking’ about in the night. I have never forgotten those images. More recent films like Harry Potter and Lord Of the Rings have trees doing extraordinary things too.
Your magnificent Cedars are stately and if they were to be actors I am sure they would definitely be in the “Shakespeare” class of acting!!
I read an article recently about the ability of trees to ‘communicate ‘ with each other via their linked mitochondria as you say. That is so astonishing !
These days, more than ever, we need to remember and experience Nature’s ability to astonish us.
Warmest wishes from Windermere
They are magnificent!
Lady Carnarvon, I will always have a passion for trees. Your story today is wonderful. Thank you so very much. Cheryl.
I ‘ve always considered trees as important and necessary characters with a fundamental role in our lives and landscape. Highclere ‘s trees are absolutely elegant and awesome. Best regards
They resemble the live oak trees of southern U. S. (I’m in Louisiana). Do you have live oaks at Highclere or in the U. K.
Seeing you in the tree got me thinking about tree houses.
Has one ever been built in your cedars?
Not in the cedars!
I so agree that the cedars provide a very intimate connection to the castle’s personality. I have a Cedrus deodara on my ranch in Temecula California, and it has valiantly prospered for the past 30 years, providing its beautiful bluish color, shade, and the graceful unique draping shape that it is known for. I so appreciate your sharing your love of trees, which not only provides us with the oxygen we need, but the beauty we cherish.
I so enjoy reading your delightful posts! Thank you for sharing your wonderful home and grounds with us in this way!
Judging the size of the tree you are sitting in/on. Id guess that tree is about 400 years old… Enjoy your lovely surroundings. Trees are the leaders of the garden.
It is younger than that!!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Happy New Year! Another marvelous blog. I can imagine how adventurous it was to be on that tree. Beautiful tree.
I hope to see you on May 29th at Highclere. My girlfriend and I are coming to see Highclere. I cannot wait!
Have a wonderful year and looking forward to your next blog.
Look forward to seeing you in May I hope!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Such majestic trees. To be able to walk among these beauties would be fantastic. Thank you for sharing so many wonderful facts on your blog.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I do enjoy your writing and this one is the BEST! Trees are so wonderful, so truly amazing and essential to life on this planet! We lost everything in the terrible bushfires of 2009 here in Marysville, Victoria but just 14 years later one would hardly believe that a firestorm wiped out Marysville! Trees, trees and more wonderful trees have been planted by residents as they rebuilt and millions upon millions have regrown on the mountains surrounding!
The new Marysville is different but still so beautiful because of the trees!
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to walk amongst these great giants. It was during the 2022 fall festival at Highclere. It must be wonderful to wake to such natural beauty every day. I love trees for all that they do. They truly are a marvel.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I was wondering if you have an itinerary as to when you might be visiting in Texas. I was fortunate to visit Highclere a few years back with a dear friend. We had a wonderful time. I would love to meet you in person.
I so enjoy your blog.
I did visit Texas last October 2022. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and met some lovely people.
Happy New Year Lady Carnarvon,
When I was in Israel last November, I thought of your cedars when visiting Jerusalem because in the days of Kings David and Solomon, they used cedar from Lebanon to build temples and palaces. You have very precious trees on your estate and I feel so fortunate to have seen them when I visited Highclere. They are magnificent and I wish they could flourish again in the Middle East. Climate change is making it difficult for native trees and plants to survive. It’s wonderful you are helping to keep the cedar trees in existence!
This is one of my favorite Highclere posts. I live in a Senior Community in Pennsylvania called Luthercrest, and on our campus we have our own arboretum: many glorious trees from amazing places. Trees add incredible insight and gravitas to an estate of any kind, and give those us of who live with them such a sense of magnificence and even protection. I am an amateur watercolorist, and love to paint the trees I see. May I have your permission to watercolor one of your photos? I will site and place and the reference information, and I will not sell it but to do that would be a pleasure. New Year’s Blessings for a whole, healthy and glorious New Year.
No problem, of course you can watercolour one of the photos of Highclere. I would be delighted to see the result.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
The Cedars are magnificent and make a show when calm so I can only imagine what they must look like if there are strong winds.
When we visited Highclere in May 2019 I was so excited to see the trees!! As I stood beneath one it was more big and beautiful than I had imagined! I hope to see them again
Thank you so much for this loving tribute to the majestic trees that help make your castle a home. Every time I watch Downton or see pictures of Highclere, I always wonder what sights they’ve seen, the secrets they’ve heard whispered under their shadows, and what wisdom they could impart.
My husband and I are traveling to England this May, from Wisconsin, and when he asked what I was most excited to do or see, I said to tour Highclere, see the trees, and to ask if I could touch one of their trunks just to say hello. If it’s not allowed, I’ll just whisper from a distance, “I was here, and I saw you.”
Thank you again for consistently sharing all things Highclere with us.
I’m afraid I’m always a little behind on reading your writings. Unfortunately, work interferes with what I would rather be doing. Thank you again for another fascinating look into the world of Highclere and it’s history.
I hope you had a very happy Christmas and New Year.
I love trees of all kind but these are so beautiful and majestic. Thank you for sharing them and their history with us.
Dear Lady Caernarvon,
Your beautifully written article about the Cedars at Highclere, reminded be very much of a
prayer we were asked to say regularly in school assembly and became one of my favourites.
It is: “Shine upon our hearts O Lord, as the sun shines through the trees. That as they
spread forth their branches to the light, so may we grow in strength and goodness”.
I thought you may like it.
Jacqueline Rainsforth (Chester)
Dear Lady Carnarvon :
I just noticed this article today January 15, 2023 and since you are commenting on one of my Favorite subjects as is all nature , I felt compelled to write.
My other love are Birds , these two reasons are the main ones I am still living on my Farm in Canada at 80 years of age .. On settling on our farm over 50 years ago my husband and I planted all our trees by hand , over 1000 and many different kinds both fruit, deciduous and evergreen . many cedars were planted forming our yard site and with Pine, Willow, Blue Spruce …Cedars were in our Shelterbelts a must on our prairie landscapes. We were fortunate to receive the trees from Indian Head Experimental tree Farm in Saskatchewan with the promise we would use them on our own farm for Water and Soil conservation.
My husband has passed and I rent out my farmland but I plan with replacing lost trees due to wind and weather , our little piece of heaven will be here for another 50 years and more.
Wish you and your family a Happy New Year and to say Thank you for letting us glimpse your paradise and sharing your Estate on Downton Abbey. ,
Yours most sincerely
MacGregor, Manitoba, Canada R0H 0R0
Thanks for the pictures and words about these beautiful trees!
Where I’m currently living, in the southeastern United States, we have “live oaks”. They’re evergreens, and some have been around for hundreds of years. In some communities, garden clubs research these trees and put plaques on them to tell people about them.
Please send us a cedar cone! I will gladly pay for postage…or pick one up when I am in London from June17-20, 2023! Would love to have a Carnarvon Cedar growing in Ridge Manor, Florida!
Forest W. Redding, Jr., Ph.D.
Dear Lady Carnarvon:
Thank you for this Monday’s blog and for sharing the brief history of how and why the Cedars of Lebanon came to be and remain at Highclere.
Great picture of you in the Tree! How were you assisted in reaching the level of trunk in which you were positioned?
Until next time, keep climbing to new heights.
A cherry picker too me up there!!!
Thanks for sharing this information. I love trees and wondered what kind they were when we visited for the Tea Party in the Summer of 2018. It also seems there is a “Poison Garden” on the property because I remember a sign on a fenced, gated area Warning Do Not Touch- Some of these plants are poisonous or some may cause skin irritations. I plan to do one on our property here in Texas because so many plants are really great plants for wildlife such as bees and other pollinators but are poisonous or may cause skin irritations. I have always been fascinated by these.
We have no poison garden – we only have positivity here – I have created a scented garden …a rose arbour but there is a sign as some plants are not good to touch – euphorbia for example – and we are open to the public so we hope people will be careful if less conversant with plants.
We visit the Cedar forests in Lebanon almost every year. I’m a big fan of those – and of yours at Highclere.
Thank you for featuring them!
PS If you ever want to go to Lebanon to see your tree’s roots, holler and we’ll fix you up!
Thank you ..
Lady Carnarvon , I have recently sent e mail Jan 9, 2023 , I did not receive and reply. Yet.
May I ask where I sent it to?