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too many trees

April 27, 2010

Suddenly we are in the fleeting, magical fortnight or so when every day brings more trees into leaf, more startling green to the landscape. Every day the view from my bedroom window is different. The tawny mass of the distant beechwood has washes of green in it today: errant sycamores, perhaps, ahead of the beeches. The horse chestnuts have proper little leaflets hanging from them now and even the silhouettes of the oaks are thickening with fat buds. White blossom is beginning to star the geans; the cherries have decked themselves in their frilly pink party clothes. My only problem for a Tuesday tree post, then, is which to choose. I have been dithering. But if I dither much longer it’ll be Wednesday, so I have decided to show you several. What the hell, let’s live a little!

This wonderful wash of spring green is rather an unusual tree for this part of the world: it is a notafagus, a South American beech. Quite a number were planted here by my father-in-law, and they seem to do very well. For most of the year I don’t pay them much attention, but they always cheer us in the spring as they are amongst the earliest trees to come into leaf. They have neat little leaves, not unlike the common beech but rather stiffer looking.

In the early autumn they usually (depending on the year’s weather) turn a wonderful crimson. So, on the whole, they are pleasant neighbours.

Every year in the spring I can’t help feeling that the ancient, gnarled limes and sycamores look a little foolish when they burst into leaf. It’s both endearing and slightly embarrassing, like seeing a usually grave and elegant elder getting giggly at a wedding. I wonder if you can see what I am fumbling to say. Here is an example of a venerable old sycamore newly decked in little green frills:

and here’s another, suddenly frivolous after months of grim austerity:

And look at the green of the grass! After the bleached browns of winter it almost makes one weep, like a prayer answered.

Perhaps the tree I most look forward to in the winter, though, is that strange creature, the larch. We have so many conifers here, but this is the only one that loses its needles and must begin afresh each year like a broadleaf. My husband takes (from himself) a week’s salmon fishing on the river here in the third week of April. The greening of the larches almost always coincides with the fishing week. It is an annual treat to walk along the river bank through the larch wood, with the purple buds like little sea anemones studding the branches of the female trees, and the bare fronds turning their longed-for feathery green. I will leave you with a picture of some larches on the drive, then: they are not as big as the ones by the river, but they are just as pleasing, as I hope you will agree.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. April 27, 2010 6:25 pm

    Lovely, DB! It seems like our trees have just blossomed overnight here. The air is intoxicating. There is one particular tree i fancy, but i don’t know what it is. In the Spring and Fall the leaves give off the most amazing scent. I would love to bottle it or get someone to make it into soap or into sachets. On windy days, the scent travels forever. Would you know what it is?

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      April 27, 2010 7:03 pm

      It sounds heavenly, though I can’t think what it might be. The Japanese ‘pudding tree’ is a broadleaf that smells like burnt sugar in the autumn, but it is very rare in Scotland. Rowans and box have strong scents though they are a bit like marmite in the reactions they get: I’m not sure if they are the sort of thing you’d want in a sachet. The Douglas fir is one of my favourite smells: on warm days it is like strawberry jam. Definitely one I’d bottle and sell to urban commuters if I could. I don’t know if that’s much help, though – but I am intrigued! Do let us know if you manage to identify it.

  2. Wendy permalink
    April 27, 2010 11:52 pm

    I’m loving your tree photos. Thankful that your concussion has gone and left your head free to look up skyward! What lovely trees – and what history they must have too – the older ones I mean (not meaning the ones your FIL planted).
    It is lovely to see dediduous trees also. Where I live the winters aren’t particularly cold, and we don’t have many that shed their leaves. Liquid amber, jacaranda, poinciana come to mind (don’t know botanicals). Your big trees will only be at the awkard stage for a wee while I’m sure! Soon they will be proud and green all over.

  3. April 28, 2010 10:27 am

    I love the spring green of new leaves. It lifts my heart to see them bursting into life and the threes being reborn. Loved your description of the old sycamore! Really made me chuckle! Hmm wonder if you can do “scratch and sniff” photos for your blog! Thanks again for photos…..

  4. April 29, 2010 10:30 am

    Ooopps! What a ski adventure you had! I do hope you are feeling better and better. I hope your doctor does not say as mine did when I had an accident like yours many years ago. I had a catscan (we call it “datatomography”) on my brains and afterwards my doctor told me: “there’s nothing there, absoluteley nothing, it’s empty”……well, as I didn’t know that already…..! We had a good laugh!
    Lovely trees! We had a notafagus in our old garden in the city and I really love those trees. However I must admit it never grew much, it was more like a tiny shrub due to the climate here.
    Do get well, take care,
    p.s. I’ve also been away, wedding and the computer has been to the computerdoctors.d.s.

  5. dancingbeastie permalink
    April 29, 2010 3:02 pm

    Having lived in Australia and Singapore as a child, I can understand your appreciation of deciduous trees, Wendy. We ex-pats really missed the seasons of a temperate climate in South-East Asia. On the other hand, the jacaranda trees were truly beautiful!

    Sian, scratch n’ sniff blogs would be fab – at least for DB posts! I’m sure the smell of fresh spring grass and heady box blossom would do city people a power of good.

    Thank you for your good wishes, Agneta, and it’s nice to see you back. I love your story of the scan! 😀 I am discovering that post-concussion syndrome can last for much longer than I had thought: I am still desperately tired and headachy, amongst other dreary symptoms. But I am certainly better than I was, thanks, so I guess I just have to be patient (not my strong point!) and give it time.

  6. April 30, 2010 1:57 pm

    This is my favourite time of year, I love how the view seems to have changed each time I look outdoors, it’s all so lovely fresh and green! Hope your head is on the mend, can’t have been nice at all. Agree with you regarding the winter we’ve just had – so much better than grey miserable rain! (just been catching up on your blog, have been before but not for a while!)

  7. May 18, 2010 11:23 am

    I love Douglas Firs, too, DB. I live near Reelig Glen, which was once home to the tallest DF in Britain. You enter another world there, all your senses come alive. One scent after another, like passing the perfume counter at Jenners. But this tree i fancy, tops them all. The closest i’ve come in my research is the western balsam poplar, if only i knew what balsam smelled like. I cut off a few buds over a week ago and put them into water. I noticed there is a delicate oil slick on the water’s surface. And the scent is glorious! 🙂

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      May 18, 2010 2:28 pm

      It sounds marvelous. I don’t know it at all – must look out for it.


  1. The Tuesday tree: an impostor exposed « Dancing Beastie
  2. The Tuesday tree: first green of the year « Dancing Beastie
  3. An April that feels like May « Dancing Beastie
  4. The Tuesday tree: Mediterranea « Dancing Beastie
  5. And now…the Larch | Dancing Beastie

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