There’s a good chance of more thunderstorms this weekend, and judging by the humidity today; tonight just might be the night. Naturally we’ve all grown up with the message to not shelter beneath trees during storms, but really; how likely is it for lightening to hit trees so close to home? Judging by the evidence at Compton Verney, more likely than many would imagine!
The above image shows Compton Verney’s impressive Wellingtonia Avenue, a feature established since the second half of the nineteenth century. Planted to border a new exit towards Kineton, the conifers, now well over a century old are maturing nicely and exhibiting their characteristic down-swept branches and soft bark – features that provide many nesting places for birds, bees alike.
On one tree however are to be found some scars that remind us of the true power of nature, but with so many of these amazing specimens, it would be all too easy to overlook this incredible individual when passing by. If you do visit Compton Verney however, you’ll find it two trees away from the entrance to the east park.
The lightning strike was several years ago I’m reliably informed, and from a distance the stunted growth of this particular tree is clear to see, its height being metres below all the others. I can only assume that at the time, the top was blown out of the tree. Also, as the lightning travelled down the stem to earth, long sections of bark were blown away, with burn marks still visible in places.
Fortunately, trees can be extremely resilient, and this one in particular, whilst taking quite a hit, is clearly not yet ready to stand down from service – after all; it would leave quite a hole in the avenue were it to go. Instead, its bark is closing over the scar sections, and in a relatively short period is already attempting to make good the damage.
Unfortunately, it isn’t the only tree that has received a strike, with two Oak trees nearby bearing scars, and a horse-chestnut also showing evidence high up in the branches. On the positive side however, there are in excess of a thousand trees within the Compton Verney boundary, and the collection is largely untouched by lightning strike.
Damaged goods they may be, but the strength of our mature trees have carried them through. When you next visit Compton Verney, hopefully on a pleasant and sunny day soon, do look for the Wellingtonia, Oak and Chestnut trees; their dramatic story is there for us all to see!