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The Singing Ringing Tree

Richard Bell’s Wild West Yorkshire nature diary,  Monday,  11th May 2009

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blue tit
blue tit
Hospice tree (the real thing, not the sculptural one)
trees at the Cathedral Retail Park

On Friday the blue tit  on the nestbox camera was still sitting on her 9 eggs. A second bird, presumably the male, though they look just the same to me, flew in for just a few seconds but didn’t take over incubation.

THIS MORNING, I drew trees from MacDonald’s on the Cathedral Retail Park and from a neat little sofa in the small conservatory overlooking the leafy grounds of  Wakefield Hospice. The Hospice used a Breathing Spaces lottery grant to improve their Woodland Path (there’s an attractive video about it on the BBC Breathing Spaces website). It looks perfect today.


The sculptural tree in the centre of the sensory garden reminds me of The Singing Ringing in the strange European fairy tale series of that name, shown many years ago on children’s BBC. Thanks to the bad behaviour of spoilt princess and the cunning of a magical dwarf (who I remember as wearing a gold Lurex jumpsuit), the Singing Ringing Tree loses its magic. The sculptural tree was designed, like the Woodland Walk, for community participation, so it’s spreading branches are set at a comfortable height for people to hang copper leaves on.


The problem with this arrangement for a taller than average person like myself is that the sharp points of the hanging sycamore-shaped leaves are exactly on eye-level, so it’s potentially dangerous for any taller, partially sighted visitor who might appreciate the sensory garden around it, planted out with tactile, fragrant plants such as herbs and lavender.


Perhaps that cunning dwarf from The Singing Ringing Tree had a hand in its design!


“You are surrounded by nature and you realise that it's good to be alive. It gives you a chance to appreciate that it's not the end of everything, life goes on and while it does you might as well enjoy it.”


George Broadhead, Hospice patient, speaking on the BBC Breathing Spaces Video

Hopefully the donation to the Rainforest Alliance included in the price of my coffee at MacDonald’s will help save a forest somewhere!

Richard Kruger as the dwarf

You can make a donation to Wakefield Hospice via their website.



The Singing Ringing Tree: Listen to the story of how a 1960s BBC TV series, bought from East Germany and complete with a Communist princess and the world’s weirdest fish, ended up terrifying and obsessing a generation of British children.