Talking Trees

green man trail

“Enter these enchanted woods, you who dare”
These are no ordinary nature trails.
Weep with the willow!
Quake with fear at the witch in the elder;
Let the holly tree lead you to your true love!

Deciduous forest is the climax vegetation of Britain. This means that if all the humans suddenly disappeared, most of our landscape would within a few decades become covered in trees. Seasonal forest covered almost all of our land for thousands of years since the last ice age and before humans cleared it for many purposes, ranging from firewood, to ship building, furniture to housing. Forest is the most natural and most bio-diverse habitat for our island, and it seemed important that Siren developed a project to celebrate this.

Talking Trees is our creative and scientific response to the great breadth of human knowledge about trees. In folklore, trees are attributed many qualities ranging from the ability to bring love to a lonely heart, to a witchy capacity to maim or kill. Natural husbandry and healing have long used the bark, roots, or trees to heal the sick. Science has revealed the biochemicals responsible for these cures and the mechanisms by which trees bind the soil, make rain or shelter animals.

Talking Trees combines this diverse wisdom into monologues spoken by individual trees in the landscape. Signs at the base of trees in Hinksey Heights Oxford guide the walker through an imaginative and informative guide to the woodland there. In the Chilterns, Siren created an audio trail in which trees actually ‘speak’ their truths through the recorded voices of actors.

To participate in a talking tree adventure, follow the instructions below:

girl at pond

Pond-dipper at Hinksey Heights

Oxford: Access the Hinksey Heights Nature Park trail from Cumnor by walking along Hurst Lane, turning left halfway towards Chilswell Farm down Harcourt Hill bridleway. Alternatively, drive to the South Hinksey and Golf Course turn-off on the A34 Oxford ring-road past Botley, drive up towards the golf course and park at the Nature Trail car park.

Chilterns: Download audio tracks and leaflets for an imaginative walk in Angling Spring Wood, between Prestwood and Great Missenden.

Familiar voices include film actor Toby Jones, the voice of Dobby the House Elf in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Toby’s father, Freddie Jones, a character actor with an illustrious career in film, theatre and TV, (Sandy Jones in Emmerdale!) plays the Oak. Poet Oliver Bernard plays the Green Man.

“I think the notices about the trees are very good and useful as I am trying to learn to identify trees. It is also great that school children are working in this wood. I would have liked to do that when I was in school. Thank you.” From an email to Siren

Siren can design a Talking Tree trail especially for your woodland, private or public. Contact us