A 500-year-old oak tree on a Welsh golf course is in the running to be named the Woodland Trust’s Tree of the Year for 2022. 

The 'Rolls of Monmouth Oak' is the only tree from Wales to make the 12 strong shortlist and it is situated on the Rolls of Monmouth golf course at the Hendre, Monmouth.   

The course has been developed on what had been the country seat of the Rolls family – who would go on to produce the Rolls Royce engine – since 1767 but it’s thought the tree has been standing for around 200 years before that. 

Ian Wade, who is head groundkeeper at the golf course, said though the tree isn’t the tallest of the oaks on the grounds it is the most dominant. 

He said: “It’s a little bit shorter than lots of trees out there, there are a number of oaks ranging from 100 to 300-years-old, and it’s dwarfed by some of those but like the lion being the king of the jungle, it’s not the biggest animal but it’s just got something about it. It’s just got character and is full of strength.” 

Ian said the oak has had pollard work done meaning its branches have been cut back so that they do not become too long and too heavy for it. 

Without most of its upper canopy, it has the typical squat form of an ancient oak growing in an open area.  

The Woodland Trust's panel, which has compiled its shortlist from hundreds highlighted by volunteers since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, has described the trunk as: “hollowing, with hulks of deadwood still retained, and the nooks and crannies, crevices and cracks in this spectacular pedunculate oak provide an important haven for local wildlife.” 

Club manager Linda Kedward said trees are an important part of the course and the presence of the oak, at the 16th green, influences how golfers approach the hole. 

The oak is in the running with trees from Herefordshire, Devon, north Yorkshire, Cumbria, Gloucestershire, County Down in Northern Ireland, Midlothian in Scotland, Derbyshire and Surrey for the UK title. The winner will go forward to represent the UK in the European Tree of the Year 2023 contest. 

The National Wales: A closer look at its trunk. Picture: William BickA closer look at its trunk. Picture: William Bick

All those nominated are recorded on the trust’s ‘hall of fame’ for ancient trees, the Ancient Tree Inventory. 

Competition judge Tom Reed, who is responsible for the inventory, said: “The enthusiasm for ancient and veteran trees and the growing number of records being submitted to the ATI in the past couple of years showed just how much people love and value their trees. 

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“We selected the trees based on their size and significance for their species and also looked for trees steeped in history as well as trees that had high ecological, aesthetic or cultural value. It’s over to the public to pick a favourite from that impressive list.” 

Coed Cadw, the Woodland Trust in Wales is encouraging people to vote for the Rolls of Monmouth Oak, with voting now open via the Woodland Trust website until noon on Monday, October 31. The winner will be announced on Friday, November 4. 

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