Thursday 19 January 2012

I love trees!

I had a stroll in my garden today, haven’t been out there since last Sunday when I took the pictures for the Garden Blogger Bloom Day and I was keen to see what news my garden had to present me with today. I looked and looked and looked, and there was….NOTHING new since last Sunday, except that the one single crocus that was almost opened last Sunday was now off and lying on the ground. That’s January in London for you. With temperatures around zero at night and not much more than 5 degrees during the day the last week I suppose I can’t really expect much to have happened, I should just be grateful nothing has died!

So in the absence of some good gardening news, I have decided to dig up some photos from a few years ago and present to you some gems. As the title of my post indicates, I love trees! Any kind of tree really, although there are trees I like better than others. Being from Norway I think I have seen more than enough Norway spruce to last me a life time….and ordinary birch (Downy birch) for that matter, but nothing beats an old, tall, majestic silver birch with long sweeping branches, just after the leaves have come out :-) Well, I say nothing, but I can think of some flowering trees that perhaps I could like even better than a silver birch, come to think of it, there are many flowering trees I really like!

Let’s get on with some photos; here is one from Kew Gardens in London, with one of their many remembrance benches. The tree is magnificent, and the bench is completely wrap-around, unfortunately I was mainly interested in the bench and therefore you can’t see the whole tree. I took this photo in 2004, and I can’t quite remember what the bench was in memory for, but something tells me that it was in memory of the fallen soldiers of the Falkland War. I might be completely wrong, as I said it is a long time ago, perhaps some of the readers can fill us in here?

The next photo is of one of Kew Gardens’ oldest tree, a Sophora japonica - Pagoda Tree. It is one of a collection called "The Old Lions", some of the few remaining trees with the oldest actual known planting date of 1762. They were brought from the estate of the Duke of Argyll in Twickenham to the new 5-acre arboretum by the Duke’s nephew, Lord Bute who was the botanical advisor to Princess Augusta in 1762. As you can see from the photo, this tree is no longer growing vertically and needs substantial support. A magnificent tree nevertheless!

This funny tree was also found in Kew Gardens, I suppose it has some kind of disease to make the bark looking like that….I have no idea what kind of tree it is, and without the leaves I guess it would be impossible for anyone to tell. However, I don’t think it is that important to always know the exact genus and species of everything I see, sometimes it is perfectly all right just to enjoy what I see right in front of me :-)

Like this tree, for example! I walked past it for several years every time I went to Kew gardens, and finally, in 2005, I just had to take a picture of it! Can you see the mouse? Yes, I said ‘the mouse’. No? Find the eyes first, 2/3 up on the trunk, and then all the thin branches that look like the whiskers on the mouse, with the nose in the middle. See it now? OK, I know some people lack the ability to ‘see’, but if you have just an inch of imagination you will have seen the mouse by now :-)

My partner at that time used to pretend he saw the mouse, even if he actually didn’t see it, but he used to say he did because he thought it was the right thing to say….but he used to get annoyed when I said hello to the Mexican just as we left the tube station at Kew Gardens! Cause he couldn’t see the Mexican either! Can you? Just as you go out of the tube station at Kew Gardens there is a back garden with an interesting constellation of pipes that resembles a Mexican. For those of you with a lesser amount of imagination; move your mouse over the image to see the Mexican :-)

OK, I’ll be a bit more serious now, back to trees! My absolute favourite tree is magnolia. If I had a bigger garden I would wish to have several of them. The only problem is that if I plant a magnolia today I probably won’t live long enough to see it flower. As they say; you plant a magnolia for your grandchildren, not for yourself. Here is a photo of some magnificent magnolia flowers, just to remind everyone in my part of the world what we can expect in a not so distant future, depending on what temperature we get the next few weeks. I know you can get magnolias that flower after 5-8 years, and I know you can get magnolias that only grow to 3 meters wide and 5 meters tall, but even if I have 5 meters in height, I don’t have 3 meters in width available; that would mean taking something else out – and quite a lot actually. What would that be….difficult choice, for a tree that flowers for a few weeks of the year? So I suppose I will continue to admire magnolias from a distance; a few of my neighbours have some great ones.

My last photo is of some Norwegian trees, mainly of…ehh, right, Norway spruce, but they do look great in a setting like this, I must admit. I took this photo on my last trip to Norway, in February 2005, and if you think it looks cold here, it is; it is minus 25 degrees Celcius and just about to get dark. The lights in the background are from the ski slope, which is full of kids and adults, as it is half term that week. It is common to get temperatures between minus 20-30 in December- February in this part of Norway every year, life goes on just as normal, our cars run on synthetic oil and have no problems, our houses are insulated and the windows are triple layered; it wasn’t until I moved to London I knew what being frosty was. I have never been as cold for such a long time ever as I have been these 13 winters in London! Here the houses are built as if we live somewhere in North Africa, with no insulation in the walls or floors, and insulation in the lofts as an afterthought. And the windows, even when double glazed are a joke! The amount of gas I use to heat my house is astronomical, because the way it is built and renovated, and this is how it is done over here. I long for some warmth and sunshine for my achy bones! Sorry, that was this week’s rant, thank you for listening!

I better round up this post before I go on to talk about British Gas again, still not finished with them although they have been somewhat helpful after my open letter to them in December. I will write a separate post about that when everything is sorted with them, if we ever get there! I hope to have some gardening news for you soon, until next time, take care :-)


  1. Loved your tree pics. I could see the mouse, and I marveled at your ability to 'draw' on the 'mexican's' picture when I scrolled over it! The first tree with the bench on the outside is gorgeous. I've often wished for such a magnificent tree to put a bench under. Unfortunately, my grandparents never planted a magnolia for me!

  2. Now I so want to visit Kew Gardens!
    I love Kew Gardens’ oldest tree, it is just like a very old human, not straight but bent over under the countless years of a long life.
    And the mouse made me smile, my first thought was 'a goofy cat' ;)

  3. Holley: I'm glad you liked the photos and the Mexican is just a simple Flash drawing :-)
    If I had my own house, and wasn't renting, I would have made space for a magnolia for the grandchildren my son still haven't made me :-)

    Gone Tropical: Kew Gardens is a wonderful place, and it will take you many days to see everything!! But if you visit the post after this one on my blog, called 'One of my Garden Books' you can see more photos from Kew :-)
    I agree about the goofy cat, it depends on which angle you look, and during the summer you can't see anything of course, all the leaves covers the eyes! This is only visible during the winter.

  4. I love trees too. We have a large hawthorn tree at the bottom of our garden. Loved your pics. Saw the mouse and the mexican straight away. I would love a magnolia but haven't got room for one. A house across the road had a beautiful mature magnolia in their garden, and they had it removed to make way for a trampoline.

  5. A trampoline!! What a waste…I guess we all have different priorities :-) I am considering taking down a huge holly (6m tall, single stem) in my garden and plant a fast growing, quick flowering magnolia in its place, but it will still be many years before I will see any flowers. Haven’t decided, I quite like the holly too…!


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