Millions admit talking to trees

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The Independent Online
THE Prince of Wales has his troubles these days, but there is at least one piece of good news coming his way: a new survey shows that he is by no means alone in talking to the vegetable kingdom.

A MORI survey carried out for National Tree Week suggests that six-and- a-half million of the Prince's future subjects also chat to trees - and five million have hugged them. And, it adds, the higher their social status, the more likely they are to do so.

Fourteen per cent of adults confessed to having spoken to trees, and 11 per cent had embraced them. In each case people near the top of the social tree were nearly twice as likely to do so as those with humbler roots.

"The higher your social class, the more likely you are to talk to trees", says MORI's Suzy Aronstam. "Unfortunately, we did not find out what people said to them. Perhaps we should have done."

The Tree Council, which runs the week - running (confusingly) for 12 days, starting on Wednesday - says it found the findings "rather extraordinary". But Fiona Anderson of the Tree Council admitted: "I am sure I have spoken to trees. We all do. But I don't really recall when: it's not the sort of thing you do remember, is it?"

But she noted that she was not inclined to go all the way: "I have patted trees, but I do not think I have ever hugged one."

Why did demonstrations of affection rise with social class? "I would suppose that people who are less wealthy live in towns and don't have so many trees to hug. And those that are there would not be so clean: they would be covered with grime or something like that. But you're not talking to an expert hugger."

At any rate, the survey may go part of the way to explaining why dendronological conversations have traditionally been associated with royalty. George III is said to have got out of his coach in Windsor Park and addressed an oak tree (not, one hopes, one of those that Prince Philip recently had cut down) under the impression that it was Frederick the Great.