Agent Jeff, familiar to readers here for his many discoveries of monkeys from Hereford town and county, Powys and his native Liverpool, has been in Wigan recently – where he’s found a new cluster, bringing another postcode area into our map – WN.
These are a collection of young-ish (by monkey puzzle tree standards) and juvenile trees, and Jeff has recorded them for us.
I don’t really know anything about Wigan, although Jeff told me that it is famous for Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls – where they are still made. Anyway I have only been to Wigan very briefly (I don’t recall seeing Mint Balls), as well as changed trains on the way to Scotland. So, turning to my social historian and opinionated partner – Ronnie Hughes – I am reliably informed that Wigan was at one time a very prosperous town. Well, rich from coal mining and mills, which meant that both extreme wealth (the owners) and extreme poverty (the workers) could be found. And as monkey puzzle trees were – in the 1800s – statements of wealth at that time, being only available and affordable to the wealthy, they are often found in areas that have had rich histories.
The monkeys Jeff found are all fairly young – the eldest is probably about 60 years old – but we often find that monkeys are planted where an old tree has been found as inspiration. Jeff’s monkeys are all to the south and west of Wigan, but I am fairly sure that we could return to explore the other areas around Wigan and find more, and probably some old ones, over 100 years in age.
There is a stately home, now a wedding venue hotel – Haigh Hall, to the north west of Wigan (the country park is just visible on the top of the map) – built between 1827 and 1840. Before that various knobs lived there and made their fortunes from coal. In fact, Wikipedia tells me that in the 1800s, ‘Extensive tree planting took place on the estate to screen the house from the earl’s collieries.’ Indeed, one wouldn’t want ones’ palatial estate views spoiled by the plebs, would one?
So – the first of Wigan’s monkey community.
This is WN4, yes I am not starting in numerical order, rather size order. This is the largest. A lovely tree.
Further along the same road, is the WN5.
I’d love to have been around to hear the conversation about these monkeys. Can you imagine WN5 being planted, say in 1950, and someone from down the road walks past and says, ‘Oh I like that.’ I wonder even where you bought a monkey puzzle tree from in 1950?
Well spotted Agent Jeff, WN3 is one of these slightly hidden ones. Bit too much conifer for my liking here, monkeys like – and deserve – their own space!
And, moving across to the M58 hinterland we have these two juveniles.
Not a great photo this one – Agent Jeff obviously operating from the car at this point! Another one which is a bit cramped with other ‘boring’ conifers. Note – ‘boring’ is my own observation.
And yes, another shy one… could have easily missed it.
And if that were my garden I’d get rid of that Hebe (looks like Hebe to me) and let the splendid monkey have its own space!
So, thanks to Jeff for keeping his eyes peeled around Wigan. And maybe you live in Wigan and know of more monkeys? If you do, please let me know. You can get in touch using the Contact page. Happy hunting.