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Lucky Eyebright Oak


The 165 years old Eyebright Oak is the same as the tree that the King of England climbed in 1651 to escape from a revolutionary army.  King Charles 11 told the administrator of the navy, Samuel Pepys (Think a 17th century Winston Churchill), that while he was hiding in the tree, a Parliamentarian soldier passed directly below. Pepys passed on the story and now the event is marked annually by Royal Oak Day.


Charles had a narrow escape, and so did the Eyebright Oak.  Four years ago, Brad Cadwallader (arborist contracted to the TDC), noted that our Oak had spread its branches so far that, should there be a big wind, there was the risk of catastrophic damage.  The TDC and landowners share the cost of protecting heritage trees, so together we brought in a team to remove the high windage material.  Brad oversaw the operation and the grand old lady, though diminished, was not disfigured.  One week later a big blow reaped havoc in Nelson and Tasman, and certainly would have cracked her open.  Thanks Brad.  We dodged a bullet.


The Oak that Charles climbed, died in the early 1700s, but she was producing acorns in her twilight years. One was planted and became ‘Son of the Royal Oak’.  Now, at three hundred years old, ‘Son of’ has lost many branches, having not benefitted from the watchful eye of a Brad Cadwallader, at least not in its first two centuries.  But she’s (he’s?) still standing. 

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