What We Lost in 2023

The Sycamore Gap Tree

A winged seed and the tough little seedling were determined enough to drive its delicate taproot through thin marshy topsoil into the dark, dry, crystalline dolerite of Whin Sill, the cliff-like ridge in Northumberland which carries Hadrian’s Wall. And there, over two or three centuries the tree grew.

The Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) did not put on a blazing autumn display like other maples. Its five lobed leaves merely turned a crumpled brown. It was where and how it stood that drew crowds to the Steel Rigg car park and a good 20 minutes of perilous ascents and descents, to get a sighting. It was photographed in snow, mist and starlight, at sunrise and under northern lights.  It posed exquisitely in the dramatic dip. In 2016 it was voted England’s “Tree of the Year.”

Sycamore Gap tree before 

On September 28th, a chainsaw wielding youth cut it down. Now the Sycamore’s life has truly come to an end, thanks to an act of thoughtless vandalism that has torn a hole in the hearts of those who knew the tree’s story and celebrated its unlikely existence. As word spread, people gathered again, this time in a state of grief and disbelief. Some laid flowers, before the crime tape kept them out.

This beloved icon will certainly not be forgotten, and it is inevitable that some effort will be made to plant new sycamore trees at the site. If these efforts are successful, the mighty tree of Sycamore Gap may eventually rise again.

Sycamore Gap tree after 

Banyon Tree in Lahaina

Over the decades, residents have gathered, feasted and proposed marriage beneath the 150-year-old banyan tree in the downtown area of Lahaina Hawaii. But on August 8, after a fast-moving blaze tore through the town in West Maui, the tree was scorched. Wildfires swept across the island of Maui and killed at least 97 people. Most of Lahaina, a community of 13,000, that was once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, was destroyed.

The tree, a Ficus benghalensis, or banyan fig, was just eight feet tall when it was planted in 1873 to commemorate a protestant mission to Lahaina a half century earlier. Years of careful tending by residents helped the tree grow. Towering more than 60 feet and sprawling an entire city block, the banyan tree had become a cherished landmark for locals.

There were so many birds singing their hearts out in the banyan when I visited in 2015, I was overwhelmed. The birds are gone now. This enduring symbol serves as an analogy for our planet, which too is being silenced by the fires of climate change.

Banyan Tree before 

Banyan Tree after 

Roasted Beef Tenderloin


4 pounds beef tenderloin

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon pepper



Take beef out the refrigerator an hour before cooking. Pat dry with paper towels.

Heat oven to 450. Line a pan with foil. Place beef on the pan. Mix butter, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and sugar in a small bowl. Pour the mixture over the beef using your hands. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast until meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 120-125, medium rare.

Let rest for 20 minutes. Slice beef and pour over juices from the foil. 

Thanks for Reading
and Happy Planting!
Faith Appelquist
President & Founder