At the heart of our Big Jubilee Picnic was the dedication of the Jubilee Tree to the Queen’s Green Canopy and the special story we commissioned by writer Irene Lofthouse about the history of the Park, its people and its trees.
This linked with national events where the Tree of Trees outside Buckingham Palace was one of the centrepieces of the Jubilee celebrations and the lighting of the chain of nationwide beacons. The Tree of Trees represented the Queen’s Green Canopy legacy to the nation, and was made up of indigenous species such as oak and hazel; the Jubilee Tree in Parkinson’s Park is officially registered now as part of the Canopy.
The tree was dedicated by special guest Alec Denton, who has known the Park all his life; Alec was helped by one of our younger residents, Bea Harris who cut the ribbon on the new tree plaque. Alec said
I have been lucky to live within walking distance of this lovely Park all my life, including when I was the same age as the young people here today. I am delighted to be still able to enjoy the Park after over 80 years, thanks to the efforts of the FOPP. Trees have always been one of the attractions of the park, a wonderful green space place that local people have been able to freely enjoy throughout the whole of the long life of our Queen, as well as throughout the 70 years of her reign and we will all enjoy watching this and our other new trees as they grow and develop over the years.Alec Denton
Irene delivered the special Jubilee Tree Story as Danu, the ancient Celtic goddess of forests and green spaces. The Story told of the many people who have lived locally, starting with Neanderthals, and how they have interacted with the types of trees now in the Park.
We celebrate the planting of the Jubilee Tree
That will grow an Elizabethan green canopy
Let us discover together ancient trees and folk
And connect your roots to the new sapling oak.
Irene finished with the lines
Like the ancients before you, the work has been hard
but together you have been my forests’ guard,
protecting habitats for nature to flourish
that create food and spaces that nourish.
So stand with me people of Parkinson’s Park
today is the day of making your mark.
Raise your leaves and rustle like the old oak tree
Together hold your ribbons and chant after me –
To compliment the Story, the Friends set up a Tree Trail to identify different types of tree eg Ash, Alder, Oak – our thanks to Chris Parapia and Joanna Brooks for organizing this, and to Roger Garnett for fixing the stakes for both the trail and the Jubilee Plaque. Meanwhile, the children, and some adults, made crowns of natural materials found in the Park to represent both the crown of a Queen and the crown of the trees. This was organized by Nicola Denson and Barbara Winfield.
The Story will be published as part of a Jubilee Big Picnic Souvenir and will be available later this year, 2022.
Another Tale of the Tree
The Jubilee Tree though has another, more recent, story: for the Queen’s 2012 Diamond Jubilee the Friend’s had only just formed with the aim of regenerating the Park and giving it back to the community as a local resource. As part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations we planted trees given by the Woodland Trust along Jubilee Walk. We were also given a small whip of an oak tree to plant as a Jubilee Tree – which we duly did.
Sadly the whip was stolen, we wrote about it in these blogs and the Wharfedale Observer picked up the story. Lo and behold we then got a communication from the Sandringham Estate saying they had read our story and were sending us another bigger oak sapling from Sandringham. We looked after this one privately for a number of years, until it has reached a better size for planting, and then we asked Meadfleet to plant it properly for us in 2018, which they did. The tree then grew in strength and size, until we felt it was ready to be dedicated as The Jubilee Tree, to commemorate the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – which has now been done.
There are a number of old trees in the Park which were likely planted at the same time as Royal events; perhaps specifically to mark those events. The great Sycamores above Crooklands Orchard were planted around the time of Queen Victoria’s coronation in 1838, and a line of oaks in the wood were planted around the time of the coronation of George V and Queen Mary in 1911, and the pine trees in the two copses were planted around the time of the Queen’s coronation in 1953, so the Jubilee Tree is carrying on the tradition.
Our thanks go to everyone who came along and made the Picnic such a lovely community occasion, bringing cakes to share, music and decoration to enjoy, and joining in all the fun. Thanks also go to the many people involved in the preparations from litter picking, planting, and bramble clearing, to fixing, painting, making and organizing. We’d also like to thank Leeds City Council’s Outer North West Community Committee, and Local Giving’s Magic Little Grants, as well as Donations from local residents for the funding the Picnic.