The Tuesday tree: Four seasons of a sycamore
Something I haven’t yet done in these Tuesday tree posts is to show one tree through the changing seasons. It seems an obvious subject for Dancing Beastie: high time I tried to address it. Growing in a pasture near the river, there is a rather beautiful sycamore which I have grown fond of on my daily walks. It has featured here before, so please excuse me for reprinting one of the photos as I try to portray it over the course of the year. By the way, I promise these photos are all of the one tree, just taken from different angles!
For around half the year – although I try not to think of this too often, as it’s too depressing – the sycamore is bare of leaves, like many of our other deciduous trees. March and April are tantalising, as the leaf buds begin to swell, thickening the trees’ profiles. At last, usually at the very end of April, the buds burst and we seen the first fresh green of the year. Here is the sycamore in the first week of May 2010. Some of the trees on the bank behind it are still leafless, although the oaks are thick with brown buds and the horse chestnuts are already a strong green.
Within the month, the sycamore’s leaves mature and darken. By the end of May they already provide the thick shade of summer. For the rest of the summer the tree is a haven for sheep and cattle, whether from rain or sun.
Autumn, with its blaze of colour, is one of the highlights of the year for most species of trees. Not so the sycamores. I can’t show you a picture of this tree in its autumn finery, because the leaves just fade to a miserably dull brown before dropping. This year, after the unusually hot spring, the leaves fell early: before the end of October, the tree was almost naked again. Still, at least the beeches and other species behind it provide a warm backdrop.
And so we head again into winter, and the half year when Persephone the nature goddess retreats to the underworld, leaving the trees stark and the earth bare and cold. Even in our temperate climate, it can feel like an awfully long wait for her return.
If you like this one, I’d love you to meet another solitary but friendly sycamore in this post from March.