The "ley" in the name Totley, denotes a place of cleared woodland. Two days ago I spent the morning photographing the ancient oaks in the fields around Totley Hall Farm. According to countryside and woodland history expert Oliver Rackham, oaks are no longer able to seed themselves easily in woodland as the American fungus dieases all oaks are now prey to seems to affect their ability to regenerate in woods, but does not affect them in the open. So I suppose this means the English oaks in woods will die out at some point. But what about these trees in field boundaries, presumably the remnants or assarts of the ancient cleared woodland? Should we be collecting their acorns and sowing them, protecting them from grazing by sheep? Should we be talking to the Woodland Trust (some of whose small planted trees were taken down for the new bus terminus at the end of Gillfield Wood)?
These oaks are old, venerable, each very much an individual. I feel rather humbled in their presence.
Of course, much of Gillfield Wood, an ancient wood, was chopped down in the 1950's and replanted with commercial American oak. So these field boundary oaks are the legacy of the older wood. Luckily the replanting hasn't seemed to affect the wonderful woodland plants too much - looking forward to the bluebells and right now the wood anenomes are delicately delightful.