Last year, a Merseyside mum-of-two married a tree. 12 months on, she’s said it was one of the best decisions she’s ever made.
I should just say, 38-year-old Kate Cunningham’s children are human, not little Bonsai trees she has grown with her leafy husband. That was probably implied, but considering her spouse is a tree I thought it would be good to specify.
Kate also has a human boyfriend, but she left him at home when she went to visit her tree at its home in Rimrose Valley Country Park in Sefton to celebrate their one-year anniversary earlier this month.
Kate came across her new partner while ‘tree hunting’ in the park, which is ‘very diverse with lots of different areas’.
As soon as I saw the Elder, I thought ‘that’s the one’. It doesn’t look like anything else around. This one stood alone amongst the trees. I just feel like trees are people. Sometimes you just know.
You know if you feel attracted to someone or smile at them as you walk past, there’s just a natural attraction. Trees and flowers are the same. I like the story behind the elder tree.
Kate and the tree tied the knot in September 2019 with a ceremony in which Kate wore an olive dress and floral headdress. Dozens of people attended the event, which was inspired by female activists in Mexico who held similar ceremonies as a form of protest to raise awareness of illegal logging and land clearing.
After the wedding, the mum changed her surname to ‘Elder’ and she now visits the tree up to five times a week. She is regularly spotted climbing in its ‘magical’ intertwining branches, where she likes to sit and ‘soak in the surroundings’.
One year on, Kate said that marrying the tree gave her a ‘new purpose’.
Me and my friends went over to the tree and said hello for a small celebration a couple of days ago. It was a little gathering with two friends where we raised a toast and had a glass of elderflower champagne.
Not once have I thought that I shouldn’t have done it. It’s something that I feel like happened at the right time.
Despite causing a little bit of embarrassment for my 15-year-old, he sees the bigger picture now and understands what it’s for.
Kate’s decision to marry the tree was part of an effort to attract attention to a campaign to save Rimrose Valley Country Park from being transformed into a bypass by Highways England.
The bypass is intended to ease traffic congestion, but locals have argued it would ruin the park and create traffic related noise and pollution.
At a consultation in 2018, developers refused to find alternative routes, but Kate and her fellow campaigners hope they will be able to put a stop to the new road.
Stu, of Rimrose Valley Friends, explained:
Our campaign is massively grateful to Kate for the action she took a year ago in ‘marrying’ the Elder tree.
Although on the face of it, this was a bit of fun, it helped bring our campaign to a national audience and to highlight yet another of the Government’s damaging road projects and the attack on our vital green space.
Our campaign is committed to challenging the road project all the way.
Kate said that marrying the tree has made her ‘feel a bit more confident’ about herself, and that she feels like a ‘stronger, better person that’s more dedicated to the whole campaign than ever before.’
As much as it’s about this campaign, I’m thinking about the destruction all across the world. This world is quite beautiful and it can’t all be doom and gloom.
Kate has since called for the inception of an international ‘Marry A Tree’ day, and encouraged more Brits to wed their local shrub.
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