ELFIN OAK IN KENSINGTON GARDENS
The Elfin Oak is the stump of a 900-year-old oak tree in Kensington Gardens, London. It is carved and painted to look as though elves, gnomes and small animals are living in its bark. The hollow, donated by Lady Fortescue, originally came from Richmond Park and was moved to Kensington Gardens in 1928. Over the next two years the Illustrator, Ivor Innes, carved the figures of the “Little People” into it. They included Wookey the witch with her three jars of health, wealth and happiness, Huckleberry the gnome carrying a bag of berries up the Gnomes’ Stairway to the banquet within Bark Hall, and Grumples and Groodles the Elves being awakened by Brownie, Dinkie, Rumplelocks and Hereandthere stealing eggs from the crows’ nest.
Innes illustrated a 1930 children’s book written by his wife Elsie based on the Elfin Oak. In it Elsie wrote: for centuries now it has been the home of fairies, gnomes, elves, imps, and pixies. In the nooks and crannies they lurk, or peer out of holes and crevices, their natural windows and doorways. It is their hiding-place by day, their revelry place by night, and when the great moon tops the bare branchless tree the Elfin Clans come out to play and frolic in the moonlight.
In 1996 Spike Milligan (a fan of the Oak) led a successful campaign to have the Oak restored, doing much of the work himself. He led a small team on Saturday mornings. It is located alongside the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground.
CARVED SEQUOIA IN JARDIN ANGLAIS
The Jardin Anglais is located in Geneva Switzerland below the Vieille Ville (Geneva’s Old Town) and was created in 1854 on the ancient harbour. The Park is home to a carved Sequoia stump. The sculpture represents the key and the eagle from the coat of arms of Geneva. The tree was already in this place in its own environment, so it blends into the natural surroundings, giving another point of interest in the Park. At the time of carving (1992) the tree was 120 years old.
TREE TRUNK IN GLOVER PLAYGROUND
Sculptor, Ant Martin, has transformed a dead tree trunk in Glover Playground, North Adelaide, South Australia. He was approached by the Adelaide City Council to revitalise a dead tree trunk which would have otherwise been removed and used for bark chips. The creation brings new interest to the playground on Le Fevre Terrace. Intricate carving techniques have been used to create spectacular images of Australian native animals. The lifeless form has been brought to life and is uniquely Australian. The carving depicts a Kangaroo attempting to climb a gum tree with the help of koalas. The koalas have been named Aurora, Annabella and Mason after Mr. Martin’s three grandchildren. The Glover Playground is known to many as Helicopter Park because of the helicopter at its centre. It is an all-time favourite.
CANOE TREE AT URIMBIRRA
Urimbirra Wildlife Park is located in a beautiful part of Australia – the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia. The Park is approximately an hour’s drive from Adelaide and is only 5 minutes’ drive north of Victor Harbor. It is home for over 400 Australian animals such as kangaroos, koalas, snakes, lizards and birds. URIMBIRRA is an aboriginal word meaning ‘to preserve’ or ‘to take care of’ which is very appropriate for this wildlife area. The park sits on land with a rich Aboriginal history which is evident in the canoe trees on the property. In the past, local Aboriginal groups made canoes and shields from some of the trees.