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July 18, 2010

trees that made britain s01.

Tony Kirkham, accompanied by tree-climbing sidekick Jon Hammerton, takes a trip through some of Britain's loveliest landscapes, discovering what part trees have played in shaping it and its people.

Tony Kirkham, arboretum manager at the Royal Botanic Gardens, explores the nation's native trees. He starts with the yew, heading to Scotland to see a specimen believed to be more than 3,000 years old, and recalls how the species played its part in a historic defeat of French forces. Les Keen narrates

Episode 2
Kew Gardens arboretum manager Tony Kirkham explores the oak with the help of tree surgeon Jon Hammerton. The pair learn why the species is considered Britain's national tree, recalling its use in Bronze-Age boats, and head to a wood near Portsmouth to see oaks whose limbs may have been used in the construction of the Mary Rose.

Episode 3
Conclusion of the history of the oak. Jon Hammerton heads up Salisbury Cathedral's 404ft tall spire, impressed by its interior despite the tough climb, before joining Tony Kirkham to see how the wood is used in making whisky. Plus, the role of the tree in British legend, from hiding Charles II from Oliver Cromwell to housing Robin Hood.

Episode 4
Kew Gardens' Tony Kirkham and Jon Hammerton look at that most traditional English country side sight - hedge rows. Tony and Jon visit the National Hedge laying Championships on the Prince of Wales' estate at Tetbury in Gloucestershire. They also learn how to make gunpowder from charcoal and travel to Castlewellan in Northern Ireland, where the yew tree Peace Maze is officially the longest hedge in the world.

Episode 5
Tony Kirkham and Jon Hammerton go in search of rare apples and visit a very special tree in Southwell, Nottinghamshire - the source of all the Bramley apples ever grown. The duo also help with the cider-making in Hertfordshire and attend the national fruit collection in Kent.

Episode 6
The world of conifers is examined as Tony Kirkham visits the glens east of Inverness to see the Scots pine in its natural habitat. Also, Jon Hammerton climbs up to look at the ecosystems at the top of some of the tallest trees, and a pine once thought extinct is viewed by collectors at Kew Gardens.

Episode 7
Tony Kirkham and Jon Hammerton explore one of the fastest-growing trees in Britain, the ash. To investigate its properties and uses, they have to hunt with spears, attempt a river crossing in a coracle and handle snakes.

Episode 8
Tony and Jon go in search of English elms and Chinese fossils.Elms are a species that once covered Britain until Dutch elm disease reached the country in the 1970s. The pair also head for Scarborough to search for fossils, hoping to prove the Chinese ginkgo tree was once native to the region. Last in series.

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