Parkanaur in Co Tyrone is typical of forests with a house and gardens which include some fine specimen trees of varied species. In the parkland, these fine trees shade the unique herd of white fallow deer, descended from a herd in Co Cork which were a present from Queen Elizabeth I in the sixteenth century.
Although the house is private, the various specimen trees on the lawn may be visited. Among them are two extraordinary trees Fagus sylvatica var. Tortuosa. These were described in 1885 as “which at a short distance resemble heaps of leaves rather than trees”.
It is said that they had been found growing naturally in the woods 60 years before and transplanted to the garden, so they date from around 1880. In 1885 they were 6-8 feet in height. They are now around 12-15 feet high, but such specimens grow very slowly.
The trees live up to their name of ‘parasol beech’. They look like rounded green mounds, their outer branches trailing to the ground all around. It is possible to walk inside and see the solid trunks and contorted branches, some like corkscrews, from which spring all this greenery.
These trees are not normal weeping beech Fagus sylvatica pendula, which grows taller and often needs a little judicious trimming to maintain downward growth. These show no inclination to grow upwards but keep their low ground touching symmetrical growth. They may not be giants, but they are very special.