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The Tuesday tree: green oak

June 21, 2011

Of all the beautiful trees that grow here, the oaks have a particular significance. Oak leaves are a symbol of my husband’s family. Each Scottish clan has what is known as a plant badge. We must allow for Victorian romanticisation of Highland history but, supposedly, this tradition derives from the days when clansmen fought battles and skirmishes in nothing but their long shirts (the cumbersome kilts being thrown off beforehand) and needed something to distinguish friend from foe. So the Drummonds would stick a sprig of holly in their bonnets, for example, and the Macdonalds made use of the handy purple heather. The Camerons and Stewarts, amongst others, adopted the oak leaf. And a very fine badge – or brooch, or indeed any kind of ornament – it makes, too.


You can see a favourite oak tree here at Oak on a frosty morning.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. June 21, 2011 2:55 pm

    A mighty fine badge this would make.
    I checked your link and it looks like mine is Juniper. I was slightly disappointed until I realized that juniper berries = genever = gin. I like this.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 21, 2011 3:17 pm

      Can’t complain about that! 😉

  2. Toffeeapple permalink
    June 21, 2011 6:03 pm

    I believe that Oaks are my favourite trees, I love the shape of the tree and the leaves. I have used it as the ’emblem’ of my home for many years even though I have no Scottish name.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 21, 2011 7:16 pm

      They are just wondrous trees, aren’t they, and full of symbolism and history. I would guess that they are more commonly thought of as English than Scottish trees, not least because they tend to grow bigger in the more forgiving English climate. And the leaves and acorns, of course, are very pleasing shapes which reproduce well in any artistic medium. How lovely that you have adopted them for your home.

  3. hmunro permalink
    June 21, 2011 6:54 pm

    What beautiful light you captured among those oak leaves, DB! Lovely. BTW: Thanks for providing the plant badge link. I never knew that the Munro plant was the “common club moss.” Not quite as inspiring as the oak, I dare say … 🙂

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 21, 2011 7:21 pm

      Hmm, ‘common club moss’…must admit it’s not *terribly* inspiring…! Perhaps it’s fearsome in the ‘flesh’ however: maybe charging at your enemy while covered in club moss could give them a really quite nasty attack of hives, or something….

      You are very kind in saying that I ‘captured’ the light. My camera is utterly basic and it’s just a case of pointing and clicking, more or less. But yes, I thought the light was lovely too.

  4. June 21, 2011 8:43 pm

    I think I grew up in oak trees, since they always made such fantastic climbing trees. At least the ones near where I lived did.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 21, 2011 10:34 pm

      How wonderful! I don’t think our oaks are especially good for climbing, as they haven’t any very low limbs. The sycamores are good though.

  5. June 22, 2011 1:30 am

    I checked the link, too, but the MacGregors weren’t listed, oddly enough. Anyway, my oak trees are just now starting to leaf out in our delayed spring. I see these photos and dream of what mine will be some day. Such slow-growing trees, and the tallest one I have is about two feet tall. Of course, I planted them as seedlings. But someday…

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 22, 2011 12:27 pm

      Goodness, you really are having a late spring! There’s something pleasingly symbolic about planting your own trees, though. It’s an act of faith in the future, I suppose. My husband and I planted an oak seedling to mark the Millenium: it’s twice our height now, though still a slender sapling. It is a pleasure to watch its annual progress.

      I wonder if the MacGregors adopted the badge of a different clan? Remember that they and their name were outlawed in the 17th Century, so would have used other surnames and tartans and so forth.

  6. June 26, 2011 11:29 am

    I love oak trees too. Interesting story of a “plant badge”. I like that idea!

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