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The Tuesday tree: a solitary sycamore

March 1, 2011

Back on the winter solstice, a beautifully sunny, snowy morning, I took a photo of a ride leading down to a tree of unusual symmetry and grace.

Since then, I have kept noticing this tree, not only for its beauty but also because I realised, shamefacedly, that I didn’t know what it was. This feels a bit like when you’ve known somebody by sight for so long that it becomes too embarrassing to admit to them that you don’t have the faintest idea of their name. On Saturday, I finally confessed my ignorance to my husband.

‘Oh, it’s a sycamore,’ said he at once.

‘How do you know?’

‘Because it looks like a sycamore.’

Clearly, I have a lot to learn about sycamores. Apparently, the way that the main branches grow out from fairly low on the trunk and then sweep upwards is characteristic of them. To make sure, we decided that we should go and formally introduce ourselves to this particular tree.

From a distance, it looks rather slender and elegant. Up close, however, we realised just how powerful it really is, with muscular boughs branching out at head height before splitting into a myriad of energetic smaller ones.

We were all rather awestruck to meet it. My son thought it looked like an excellent climbing tree, though the main branches are just a little out of his reach at the moment.

But working his way out from the main trunk, he discovered that one of the tapering branches swoops down to make a perfect rocking horse. Much shrieking with delight and bouncing up and down ensued.

So, a tree that is both beautiful and friendly to children. For most of the year, we cannot easily get to it, as it stands in a field full of livestock: you can see how last year’s sheep have worn the earth around it quite bare. (You can see the bright green spurts of nettles starting to grow as well.) Whenever we next visit this sycamore, though, you can be sure that I will not forget the name that goes with this face.


You can see a post about another splendid old climbing tree – a rather similar sycamore – here (‘A Guardian of the Riverbank’), and pictures of another solitary sycamore in changing foliage here (‘Tuesday’s tree: Sycamore’), together with a little more information about these trees in general.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Margaret Lambert permalink
    March 1, 2011 4:46 pm

    I’m very sorry to admit that I wouldn’t have known the name of that tree either…and I can’t excuse it by saying we don’t have any here! There is a canyon not far away which must by full of them as it’s called Sycamore Canyon.
    It is certainly an ideal tree for children to play on, in and under.
    I hope you can feel just a little warming and a bit more light…

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      March 1, 2011 5:29 pm

      They do make lovely children’s trees. By the way, I owe you an apology: you were right the other day about our grass starting to ‘green up’. Some of those little tussocks of bright green are grass, as well as nettles. So much earlier than last year that I didn’t believe it at first! 🙂

  2. Deb permalink
    March 1, 2011 9:11 pm

    You describe our relationship with trees very nicely – beautiful and friendly. Why is it that trees seem so close to us that we endow them with human characteristics? Our connection to them must run deep.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      March 3, 2011 7:14 pm

      Indeed. There must be a book in that.

  3. March 1, 2011 10:09 pm

    What a splendid tree – love your winter solstice photo where it is so beautifully framed by the other trees. It manages to look both dignified and child-friendly.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      March 3, 2011 7:15 pm

      Thanks! It was a pleasure to meet it, I must say!

  4. March 2, 2011 12:40 am

    We don’t have trees that look like that here in the U.S., we just don’t. How old is it?
    But I know exactly what you mean about having a relationship with a tree.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      March 3, 2011 7:17 pm

      We don’t know when it was planted but, ‘guess-timating’ from its girth, we think it must be at least two hundred years old.

  5. March 3, 2011 11:47 am

    THE best playground!

  6. March 3, 2011 9:26 pm

    Hello 🙂
    Thanks for your comment on my blog.
    What a lovely place you have here and
    what a beauty that sycamore is!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      March 3, 2011 11:03 pm

      Thank you very much for dropping by. I’ve been a quiet fan of yours for ages!

  7. March 4, 2011 6:50 am

    What a beautiful tree and, if I were a boy, would love to climb it too! Come to think of it, I did quite a bit of climbing with my brothers when a girl! As you said, it must be at least 200! I’ve spent the week keeping busy (Hubby’s in England, then Norway and Sweden) pruning all of our trees; what a job, with a small pruning saw! But I’ve enjoyed being out there early morning to beat the heat. All of them are looking happy about their trim and I’m happy now that I don’t have to duck when mowing! Lovely photos, once again.


  1. The Tuesday tree: Four seasons of a sycamore « Dancing Beastie
  2. Tuesday tree: sycamore, framed | Dancing Beastie

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