Nothing adds more to the charm of a home than to a beautiful tree.
Passersby will stop admiring it; the owners will consider it with pride and affection and, in this period of the year, will shine in low sunlight.
We love them so much, it's even an annual National Tree Week.
Yet not many people went as far as the lawyer Pamela Hindes of Uxbridge when he discovered that the oak tree in his garden was dying.
Elegant: a green London street
The story of Pamela begins 11 years ago when she moved to her home, ironically called Oak View.
"It was a central point at the top of the garden, and even all the neighbors who had been here since the 1960s loved it," says Pamela, 57.
"Then, after being here for three years, some branches started to fall in. I called the tree surgeon and said the previous owners had damaged the roots using a rotavator – he was dying."
Most people would have to take down the old tree and leave it to that one. However, Pamela, who had seen a wood carver on a country farm, had the idea of preserving the tree as a sculpture.
Pamela had been a Tolkien fan since childhood, rereading The Hobbit and watching the film version of The Lord of the Rings until she knew almost every line.
So he hired a wood carver – at a cost of £ 300 a day – to create a scene from The Lord of the Rings.
Now there are the owls carved at the top of the tree, the branches are left jagged to represent a man's arms and there is a toadstool carved at the base. The icing on the cake are the "fairy" doors.
They provided countless hours of fun for the three grandchildren of Pamela, Jessica, seven, Amelia, five and Sienna, two.
"Girls love visiting fairies and it all depends on wooden sculptures," says Pamela.
Having treated the old tree with preservatives, it should take another 25 years before it rots completely. With a cost of over £ 1,000, Pamela believes this project has been well spent.
Pamela Hindes, from Uxbridge, saved the oak in her garden by hiring a wood carver for £ 300 a day
"It makes the garden unique," he says. "Anyone can have a new kitchen, but not everyone can have a tree like mine".
Pamela's four-bedroom house is 12 miles from central London and is for sale with sellmyhome.co.uk, priced at £ 800,000.
Nature lovers appreciate trees because they attract birds and other wildlife. Paul and Sally Helson, with the help of the Barn Owl Trust, installed a bird cage in a Monterey pine in the garden of their five bedroom Devon home in Holbeton.
"We have barn owls that lurk there," says Paul, 66, a retired NHS manager. "We hear the young people rustle during the day and see the mother hunt".
With a three bedroom cottage in the park, the Helsons homes are on sale for £ 1.3 million with (marchandpetit.co.uk).
There are also practical advantages in having a tree in the garden. "It brings an element of privacy," says Will Clark, CEO of sellmyhome.co.uk.
"Many like the idea of being at least partially shielded from the sight of passers-by and external traffic."
According to US research, a strategically placed tree can save up to 56% on air conditioning costs. In winter an evergreen can reduce heating bills by 20-50%. A tree can also reduce 50% of urban noise.
On the other side of the coin, taking care of a tree can take a long time. If it is fruity, then you must collect and store the products.
Having a deciduous tree means piles of leaves to sweep every fall. A tree near a house can also be risky – it could fall down or even damage the foundations of a house.
For these reasons, in general, a tree should be at least 15 feet away from your home. Despite this, home builders know that a well positioned tree or two can help attract buyers.
"We had a hard time building around a 500-year-old oak tree rather than destroying it," says Joe Taylor, a designer of Octagon home builders. "Positioning trees sensitively is vital for new developments".