Proud horticulturalist David Bendon is responsible for planting a staggering 10 MILLION oak trees – as Britain’s only professional acorn picker.
David, 57, has spent the last 20 years collecting tonnes of oak tree nuts by hand.
His acorns are harvested from specially licensed trees in the South West, which have been selected for their size, health and longevity.
They are then sold to plant nurseries, where they are growing into saplings which are later planted to grow into new oak trees.
Mr Bendon, from Williton, Somerset, spends each Autumn mowing back grass and weeds so he can surround the individual trees with matting.
This will collect the falling acorns at the pretty and private Nettlecombe Estate on Exmoor, Devon.
He said: ”This year I hope to pick up my 10 millionth acorn.
”There are, on average, about 200 acorns to a kilo – and so I’ve been able to calculate that I am very close to the 10 million mark.
”I should be collecting it sometime over the next couple of weeks.
”It’s very gratifying to think that by now my work – which can be pretty cold, wet and windy at this time of year – has been responsible for growing what, collectively, is a vast new forest of English oaks.”
After collecting the acorns, Mr Bendon, who is a Forestry worker in Exmoor, sells them to specialist tree nurseries.
The young trees – famous among arboriculturalists and historians – are often bought by developers or landscaping experts who require saplings for large scale planting schemes.
Mr Bendon, of Williton, Somerset, added: ”I know that it was one of the biggest planting projects to use oaks grown from acorns I collected.
”I was told the one scheme required a couple hundred thousand trees.
”The timber from Nettlecombe oaks was used to make the ships which Sir Walter Raleigh sailed to beat the Spanish Armada.
”Raleigh was related to the Trevelyan family who owned the estate.
”The oaks were in great demand for centuries – one of the woods I collect from is still called King’s Wood, which relates to the fact that the trees there were once allocated for use by the king.”
But not all Trevelyans were so keen to help king and country, with one 19th century baronet accepting an offer of #30,000 for the oaks – a sum worth millions today.
He withdrew the deal when the workmen arrived to fell the trees – meaning they have remained in their picturesque location for centuries.
The sylvan park at Nettlecombe now boasts some of the most magnificent oaks in England, with some of the trees that supply the acorns having stood there for more than 800 years.