Friday, 24 February 2017

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

LONDON TREES: Richmond 2

The Royal Oak of Richmond Park is a mighty fine, is a tad creepy, ancient oak tree. It might look a little worse for wear but then again, it is thought to be around 750 years of age and still going strong! It has been pollarded for centuries, a practice which helps it live longer. See below for another example of pollarding.

LONDON TREES: Richmond 1

Oak trees everywhere, and all of them hundreds of years older than me - what a place! I'm in Richmond Park, and I am surrounded by huge, old oaks, hundreds of years of age. Time moves more slowly here. I settle myself with my against this fine tree and gaze up at the limb stretching out above my head. The sun is dazzling, and warm on my skin  although the air in the shadows is bitter cold.

The sky is that pure blue when there are no clouds and everything seems to hangs motionless, quietly. Tattered lobed leaves fall slowly, irregularly, like big crisp snowflakes; spider webs  shine in the sharp light; and some kind of small flies follow some kind of dance. I look up above me at the scratch of claw on branch and notice now the jackdaws anxiously guard nest holes, guarding them from each other and from the noisy, squawking parakeets that are also eyeing up old woodpecker holes and tree cavities. The sun drops and the air is cold; I stand up, stretch, and wander slowly back through the woods towards the perimeter, towards the world of houses and cars and bustle. My meandering path takes me towards an curious oak, small and squat though with a nice canopy; it is only when I am right close up that I realise quite how big it is - a very impressive tree!

Friday, 17 February 2017


I bet what I am about to say will come as a surprise and it certainly surprised me: London is said to be the largest Urban Forest in the world! Aside from the great number of trees, there are also some truly tall and huge trees too. One such beauty is a Barnes wonder, and it even has a name, Barney, the giant Barne's London Plane. The fabulous Ancient Tree Hunt of London lists Barney as having an astonishing girth of 8.2m and and as one of London's oldest plane trees it may date back from 1660. The London Plane is a hybrid between two species of normally geographically isolated planes  that may have occurred in Spain or possibly in Vauhall, London. It flourished at a time when London was mired in smog and soot and the 'magic' rejuvenating bark of the plane meant these trees could survive the clogging grime. See more of the history here, and here. Here are some more great trees of London to go out and re-discover. And don't forget to pop in and say hi to Barney!

Below are some other particularly notable planes...

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Where to plant trees...!

It is great to plant trees, as the Woodland Trust will be first to tell you. But maybe not over a football pitch! (Some councils of course have other ideas....). There are lots of cool pics of trees growing in unusual or bizarre places, this has to be a winner!

Glasgow Botanics: a few wee discoveries

A quiet gathering of leaves down a drain in norht Glasgow; small moments hold your gaze when fresh in from travels afar. With a head full of trees and the riot of southern Ontario's Fall colours of last October, I flew back into Glasgow and suitably exhausted I of course.....headed straight out to the amazing Glasgow Botanics! The colours were still rich yellows and reds whereas back in Canada the leaves had burned bright and fallen oh, so quickly. Wandering about the gardens and arboretum, a favourite hobby of mine (see here, here and here) I had fun hunting out small versions of the great trees of eastern Canada I had been walking among. And it was then I realised that there were so many hidden treasures here at the arboretum. Like this muckle leaved syscamore, Acer macrophyllum, and those leaves really are big! There was some I recognized, and others I thought I did, until I read the label, like Acer rufinerve (Japan) which looked to me like the striped maple Acer pensylvanicum of North America. Eventually I had to go indoors and crawl into a bed and sleep. But I will be back soon, and I wonder what I'll find next time I really look.



 Yellow Buckeye (Eastern USA)



Barnes' wild graveyard

Barnes' old wild graveyard is a place of mystery and intrigue. There's interesting and tragic people buried under the tangle of vegetation and fine old grave stones for sure. But for me, the fascination is in the tree slow, stone grown slow green tide that overrides the works of stone masons past, in the profusion of small trees and bushes jutting up at all angles. Barnes' Cemetery or Barnes Old Cemetery, is a disused cemetery in Barnes, in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. My favourite tree was this lovely pine with quietly writhing limbs, or great fingers as if from some vast hand that had erupted out from the earth. A friendly robin flitted from stone top to stone top, like a friendly guardian and I wished I'd had more time to just sit and drink in the peaceful green of the place; I'll be back!