Trees-on at Selwyn

DERMOT SMAMS gives you the full lowdown on the biggest excitement of the term so far.

College funny Nature satire selywn trees wildlife

When someone says ‘Selwyn’, you immediately think ‘trees’. The Selwyninians are rightly proud of their arboreal heritage. The college has some of the most exciting trees in Cambridge and tourists and students alike flock to see them. Here is a list of some of our favourites with some fun facts about our leafy sentinels.

1. A classic tree to start off with. This young ash tree has lots of potential. Its buds are beautiful but are in fact poisonous. Look out for robins nesting here- but don’t disturb! Robins are a vital part of the Selwyn biosphere

2. This tree is well loved by the entire college. Its signature squat silhouette has led to it receiving many nicknames. Monikers include ‘The Gentle Lady’, ‘The Turd’ and ‘Piney Pete’. It is not in fact a pine but a Furred Norwegian Trusk, just the kind of tree to have around for a Christmas atmosphere, but also a nice purveyor of shade in the summer months.

3. This gnarled individual has a huge amount of character. Sinister Selwyn lore tells us that it is in fact upon the site of the second Dean’s burial mound. It’s a great spot for a very brief ghost walk!

4. Selwyn do a great job of taking care of their juvenile flora. Chained up until he or she reaches maturity, this tree is a simple Beech with gorgeous flowers. It is particularly popular with the freshers.

5. An absolute monolith of a tree. Don’t even think about climbing it. The 17th Century poet Gideon Harris tried to shin up it without much success. He fell out and broke his leg, rendering him unable to play fives for the year. Whilst bedbound, he wrote many of his best poems including ‘The Twilighting Wren’, ‘Alabaster, Alabaster Weep No More’ and ‘A Sonnet to John Pontoon’.

6. Cheeky I know, this a selection of Plane Trees, but using perspective we can see they are all of the same genus. Controversial when first planted, they have taken a while to be accepted, and survived a JCR motion to uproot and move them to Granchester. Can you spot the van in the background?

7. A sober note to end on. These trees, like anything, cannot live forever. Trees are the main source of wood, without which our great university could not exist. This bin was a tree once, and so, in a way, were you and me.

8. BONUS BUSH: I know what you’re thinking; this is no tree. However its great plumage and fine box merit a special mention.

Do you have a favourite tree? Do you think Cambridge has too many trees, or too few? We’d love to hear from you.