Celebrate International Day of Forests with poetree!

21 March 2021 1 minute read

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We're thrilled to announce the winners of our PoeTree competition, honouring our connection to urban trees. Check them out below!

What better way to celebrate World Poetry Day and International Day of Forests than read some lovely poetree? We put out a call for tree and nature inspired poems, and we were inundated with brilliant and heartfelt poems from treelovers all over the world. Here we present the five winners, judged by celebrated writer Robert Macfarlane. Click on the titles below to read them - preferably while sat under a tree in your local park.

Trees for Cities would like to extend a huge thanks to everyone who sent it their poems! You're treemendous.

The Names of Trees by Rae Crossman

I am teaching my children

the names of trees




the shape of leaves

the feel of bark




how roots hold firm

how seeds set forth and travel




the way birds live in their branches

the way their branches live in my heart




I am teaching my children

the rising of sap

the bursting of green

the touching of sky




I am teaching my children

the falling to ground

the falling apart




the way seedlings root on nurse logs

the way saplings reach for light




I am teaching my children

to grow after I’m gone




I am teaching my children

to teach their children

the names of trees

By Rae Crossman

Every morning by Ayla Style

Every morning

I wake

And there it is-

My tree.

Standing guard, a


Being, watching me


Many tiny


Green buds against

Blue sky.

The tree is now


With marshmallow


Draw close, listen

Press an

Ear to the bark-

And hear.

The tree’s

Susurrus over

Traffic, the

Human anthem

The tree is home

For me

It is my roots,

My anchor.

By Ayla Style, 12

The Poplar by Nicole Lee


They planted a poplar seedling

beside the rushing Wandle

and the rustle of its leaves

every spring filled the

meadows with its

great galleon’s breath

The great tree raised

its breast to the wind

and its million green leaves

threw lightsome confetti

on the soft grass where

sometime a hen scumbled

or sometime a mother cried

because her boy was not

coming home from Waterloo

from Kandahar from Ypres

Tobruk Kojima leaves

straying down on her grief


A great branch gouges a gash

in the lawn chainsaws tear up

the afternoon where the rotten

stump stands tall as a man

finger-deep grooves in the grey bark

hard as stone in a graven king’s face

Round the back all is decay

a gothic dank black tenement

the poor inhabitants shiny brown

articulated woodlice

retreating into their cramped quarters

or scuttling over a fungal doorstep

A girl could fit into that slot

wrap the rich black lignin round her

like a wood-nymph’s shift

feel the sap steal through her veins

her limbs reach skywards her dreams

down to a moistly crumbed eternity

By Nicole Lee

White Thorn by Nimue Brown

Before the cyclepath

A railway ran here.

Before then, a field edge

A lane boundary, I know not.

Slow growing hawthorn

Dense your wood, modest your size

Countless your years.

A spring wells cheerful at your roots

They built a tunnel to bear it

Not letting your water wash

This tarmac path away.

At twilight, the soft orange

Glow from a nearby factory

Makes eerie your pale blossom,

Conjures stories of magic to you,

For were you not a fairy tree

In folklore? Now some security light

Singles you out from the hedge

Suggests enchantment where mundane

Realities meet. You stand otherworldly

As darkness claims surrounding trees

On the border twixt night and day

Between industry and field.

Beyond the fence that marks off

Path from forbidden ground

You are friend to the wandering fox

Untouched by passing children,

Beyond my reaching hand

But not beyond my dreaming.

By Nimue Brown

Park Domain Plane by Helen Frederick

A fabulous London Plane

Is my companion today.

His base spans two metres,

Her lower tunk

A vertical scorched riverbed,

Splashed with golden lichen.

Sags and lumps around his lower girt

Show a little middle aged spread,

Or past seasons of plenty.

I circle her and count

Twelve main toes to his foot.

Never pollarded

Allowed to grow magnificently,

To the height and breadth

Nature saw fit.

She branches at seven metres,

Into three main arms,

Two divide trice more,

The third climbs solo,

I must crane my neck

To seek its peak.

Some branches cascade

A foot from the grass.

I trace one eleven metres,

The size of a firkin barrel

On departing the trunk,

It tappers to a new green stem

The width of a flea,

Suspending a beautiful

Soft spiky Malteser sphere,

Decorated in pink,

When you bring your eye near.

Other branches display

Last year’s baubles,

Hanging Like Ferrero Rocher.

They snow into hundreds

Of fluffy canopied seeds

If you’re tempted to tap them.

His lower arms

In flakey camouflage green,

Fade to grey tips

Wit a hint of olive

Beneath their sheen.

Tiny new leaves,

Tan gold sovereigns on opening,

And silk velvet soft,

Grow into large hands

As they bathe in sunlight,

And turn vibrant parakeet green.

Outgrown dust coats shed

Onto my inquisitive fingers.

What looks like perfection

Is full of irregularity;

Many branches twist and corkscrew,

Junction where a branch was lost,

And continue in another direction.

Collectively they create

A circular lattice,

A giant Victorian birdcage

Suspended around her trunk,

Maximising light to every leaf.

I long to see this majestic tree

In full Summer dress.

What a spectacular wonder.

I am in awe at your beauty.

How long have you lived,

Two hundred years?

will you thrive

Two hundred more,

If no human interferes?

What have you witnessed,

In all of your time?

What could we learn,

From your rhythm and rhyme?

What a contrast you are

To your pollarded,

Skeletal street siblings.

I wish all who pass blindly,

Or do not visit at all,

Could behold

Your exquisite splendour,

And discover

Your stupendous story,

For you are a London plane

In full magnificent glory.

By Helen Frederick

Oak Tree 2018822 1920

International Day of Forests

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests (IDF) in 2012. The Day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests - including urban forests. As you can see from the poems, our urban trees are pretty amazing. Not only do they provide a source of beauty and interest in bleak urban landscapes, they have crucial environmental benefits and give all us city-dwellers a place to relax, away from the stresses and strains of everyday life.

But our urban trees have come under increased threat in recent decades and we are now at risk of losing the lungs of our towns and cities. Every day more than 50 urban trees in the UK disappear; as a result of aging, disease or simply increasing city sprawl. With 80% of us now living in urban areas, we now need our trees more than ever.

Tree cities of the world

We're proud to be part of the Tree Cities of the World programme, connecting cities around the world to create a network dedicated to sharing how we all manage urban trees and forests to make our cities greener and more robust.

Donate to Trees for Cities and together we can help cities grow into greener, cleaner and healthier places for people to live and work worldwide.