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Snow fallen on cedars

January 4, 2011

For this week’s Tuesday tree I did think about ivy, to follow last week’s holly. Ivy, however, can by no stretch of the imagination be called a tree. Moreover, the only handy specimen which I can find is growing up a particularly ugly garage wall, so I thought I would spare you that. Instead, we turn to an altogether more majestic specimen: the Atlas Cedar.

The Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica) is a native of the Atlas Mountains of North Africa, but is not uncommon in large gardens in Britain and mainland Europe. It is thought to be a close relative of the better known Cedars of Lebanon, although –

– hang on a minute, I’ve just realised that I am talking like a guidebook. Here’s a better idea: if you’d like to find about more of the botany and uses of Cedrus atlantica, there is plenty of useful information on the internet. Speaking as myself again, as a non-scientist, what I love about the Atlas Cedars is their great sweeping branches and statuesque form. We have a short avenue of them here, perhaps a dozen trees or so, and they have an impact out of all proportion to their numbers.

Taken in June, this isn’t a very good picture of the avenue, but you get the idea


There are also some young specimens being nurtured nearby. They seem to do nothing for years on end, so it must have taken generations for the mature ones to grow as big as they have.


Anyway, all these midsummer photos are just a precursor to the midwinter image that I really meant to show you. In snow, the dark needles become a negative image of themselves, delineated as sharply as an etching. I think I actually prefer them in their winter purity.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2011 6:27 pm

    As always your photos are great!
    What a beautiful tree this is – the avenue is very impressive – have the lower branches been kept trimmed back or do they grow normally starting at that high point?
    We have no cedars growing here, or very few, except in foundation planting around urban homes. I must ask my friend Carrie where she gets the cedar for the xmas wreaths she makes……

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      January 4, 2011 11:51 pm

      Goodness, Janet, I don’t actually know if they are trimmed! I shall have to go and have a proper look at them.

  2. January 4, 2011 10:29 pm

    Oh that last photo is an absolute stunner! I love the avenue of cedars too. Cedars are very majestic yet I feel as though they would embrace me, in a very benign but unsentimental way.

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      January 4, 2011 11:53 pm

      I know what you mean: they do have a very benign presence.

  3. Margaret Lambert permalink
    January 5, 2011 3:47 pm

    One year I saw pines here at home (world’s largest stand of Ponderosas), pines in Canada and pines in Japan. I don’t think it had previously occurred to me how many varieties there are, so widely spread around the world. Your Atlas Cedar is magnificent! I think the slow growth is somehow connected to their great longevity.

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      January 5, 2011 11:03 pm

      Your local Ponderosas must be a sight indeed. I am only slowly learning to appreciate conifers and all the many varieties that there are – and am even more slowly learning to tell the difference between some of them!

  4. Deb permalink
    January 5, 2011 10:14 pm

    The avenue is wonderful- the trees seem to be guardians of the castle – watching over visitors on their way. How lucky you are to have such old trees.

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      January 5, 2011 11:07 pm

      What a magical idea. Yes, we are extremely lucky. Walking beneath some of the ancient trees here, I feel as transient as a beetle.

  5. Erika W. permalink
    January 7, 2011 1:41 pm

    Our back garden has a few very old, very large trees (as well as a circular path of flagstones laboriously dug up and placed by my husband from just below the soil where the floor of an old mill originally stood.) I have exactly the same feeling of inconsequence when I stand below these trees. Oh, and we also have the two huge halves of a broken granite millstone, useful bases for flowers in pots!
    I wish you fully recovered health in the coming year. I think of yoru courage and charm very often.

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      January 9, 2011 11:38 pm

      What a touching thing to say, Erika, thank you.

  6. January 11, 2011 1:24 am

    Hello again!

    I’ve been meaning to get back over here and really explore around this blog since you dropped me a comment a while back, and I’m so glad I did. What gorgeous posts you make… I feel like I’ve been on a treasure hunt. I will definitely be keeping an eye on what’s happening around here!

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      January 12, 2011 6:11 pm

      Thanks – and likewise with yours!

  7. March 10, 2014 3:46 pm

    Hello! I came across this helpful blog post whilst searching for good images of an Atlas Cedar. Do you ever grant permission to use your photos? I work for the Arbor Day Foundation, a nonprofit tree-planting and conservation organization in the U.S. and would love to feature one of these photos on our tree guide and nursery site, which many people use for identifying trees. We don’t seem to have a good image of an Atlas Cedar–would we be able to have permission to use one of yours, giving you photo credit, of course?

    Feel free to respond via the comments or email me at Thanks very much for your time!

    • March 11, 2014 3:00 pm

      Hello Brianne, I’m glad you found this. Arbor Day sounds like a very worthwhile organisation and I’d be happy to let you use some photos. If you just give photo credit to, that would be great. All the best to you!

  8. March 11, 2014 3:35 pm

    Thanks so much for your kind words, and of course the photo permission. We are grateful for your generosity. We’ll happily put “” as the photo credit. I’ll send you a link when it’s live on our site!


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