Evergreens of Rushmere Country Park

I go for a walk with my son in the clear cold air. Rushmere Country Park is evergreen Plantation at one end, but at the Stockgrove end is mostly much older Broadleaf woodland. It’s all beautiful no matter which end…

Now is the time to have fun learning to tell which evergreen tree is which. They may all look like a blur of dark green at first glance, but bring out a Collins guide and the conifers, pines, yews, cypresses and cedars all start popping out of the green sward.

Clockwise from top: California Redwood, White Spruce, Blue Colorado Spruce, Scots Pine, Leyland Cypress.

So can you use any part of these trees, for food or otherwise?

Well, you can eat young spruce tips – watch outdoor the new young growth in Spring. When I get hold of some I’m putting them in a rice salad with some fruit. Yummy.

The Scots pine exudes a resin when cut (NB: It wasn’t me that cut them! It was like that when I got here.) When this is mixed with powdered bone and powdered charcoal, it makes a strong waterproof resin glue that can be used to waterproof canoes and containers. The bone gives it the flexibility so it doesn’t crack like pure resin would. When I tried this with my son, I tried grating some old sheep bones (you might not want to use your Mum’s best grater, there’s a lingering scent of mutton grease) but it was quite a mission, especially with a then 4 year old in tow. In the end we melted the charcoal, bone gratings and pine resin together in a pan and dipped a thick stick in the goo again and again until they was a big blob on the end. This can be heated up and dripped onto the thing that wants glueing, a bit like an archaic glue gun. it was fun anyhow, even if it was hellish cleaning the pan afterwards.

Redwood is good for looking a bit posh, and Leyland Cypress is good for..um..causing disputes with the neighbours – then blocking out said disgruntled neighbours. If your’e into that sort of thing. It does smell nice though.

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