• tree hugs

    Garden, My Everyday, natural world • Dec 21st, 2018


    The trees in my garden count as family.  We planted them all as whips and have watched them grow into tall, sturdy characters. Over 20 years they’ve seen pretty extreme conditions: flooding and drought in succession. Only a few have fallen, a copper beech and a pretty hawthorn were lost to drought and I tried a eucalyptus which promised a lovely trunk with exotic markings but it looked so unhappy I gave it away. The others have gotten on well and enjoy life at the back of the garden. We planted the birches together and I remember thinking about the eventual height and spread of the walnut tree so planted it in a big space. Others filled in the gaps and there’s a prunus and an amelanchier near the house for spring loveliness.  Late autumn is a busy time collecting and burying leaves and I’m not done yet with the heart shaped birch leaves that shrivel amongst the blades of grass; raking will continue into the spring. The trees all make a contribution to our everyday: pretty blossom, shade from the afternoon sun, holding up the washing line, swishing when there’s no rain for weeks, apples, nuts and berries, hosting squirrel parties, golden leaves, wreaths in midwinter.

    The advice I give to new neighbours – we have quite a few in our village – goes something like, prune existing trees hard, plant in groups and plant trees you see doing well in the local area: favourites here on the Cotswold edge would be these 4 as specimen trees in a smaller space:

    crab apple

    ornamental cherry (prunus)

    mountain ash (sorbus)

    juneberry (amelanchier)

    and in a bigger space:

    birch

    Scots pine

    hazel

    hornbeam

    I resist planting trees admired on my travels, photographs and novels take me to their landscape instead.

    I haven’t mentiond my walnut tree, he is so special but probably too big for a small garden. His canopy extends into my neighbour’s garden and will need a hard prune before March. I chose a walnut because of literary and cultural associations from continental Europe, so a bit of an exception to the native tree rule. He’s done so well here, admired, loved and celebrated by us all. I reckon he needs his own social media account or at least a dedicated blog post with photos when he’s in leaf. Tell me about your favourite tree in the comment box; you’ll be surprised by how emotional you get. 

    photos of the birches and crab apple taken this week

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