Eek! I truly didn’t intend to leave it four months before posting about my tree again! How on earth did that happen. And it isn’t even as if I haven’t visited it, taken photos even! Then life gets in the way of posting, and here we are, May. So, here’s a bit of a catch-up.
The woodland where my tree lives along the River Wygyr has been through the Spring transformation, with snowdrops giving way to daffodils and now ferns and bluebells. In early February the slope alongside the steps down to the river were scattered with snowdrops
By mid March these were just memories and grass-like leaves, and daffodil leaves were making their presence known.
And in the more sheltered areas early narcissus were forming huge blocks of cheerful colour.
Now, in early May, the late narcissus are just going over, and there has been lots of clearance work on the bank, including, sadly, the removal of the stump with the fungi at the bottom there.
The clearance has included the Alexanders that were developing on that side, but on the other, wilder side of the steps, they still flourish. I love the freshness of the colours, the unfurling of the ferns, the shots of blue from the forget-me-nots and bluebells.
Many of the trees are still quite bare, but there is increasing colour, from blossom and young leaves. The bridge looks particularly inviting at the moment.
One thing has become very clear – the right hand tree in the small cluster that is “mine” for the year is definitely a different species altogether. Even over winter this seemed probable, as the trunks looked different. The right hand one, with the birdbox on it, is relatively smooth, though clothed in lichens and moss.
The little cluster to the left though, which is my focus, has a very gnarly appearance.
The same can be seen on the much larger “sentinel” tree up near the bridge:
The other day, when I took the photographs, I got definitive proof of ID of both. First the right hand tree, which now has young leaves:
Sycamore. Not my favourite sort of tree, thanks to the cluster we have around our house that are constantly trying to take over the whole area with their prolific seedlings. By contrast, my own tree cluster is still looking bare, at least on this side of the river, with just the fuzz of lichen breaking up the almost monochrome silhouette.
There has been clearance around here too. This is what the base of the trees looked like in early February, and I was conscious that it was going to get progressively harder to get close to the trunks as the foliage filled out.
I can now actually get right down to the trunks themeselves, though no doubt the brambles will soon cut off access again. But I still don’t have definitive proof that my tree cluster is alder, so I wandered on up the valley to the next bridge to check it out from the other side.
Blackthorn dominates, and the clifftop combination of blackthorn and gorse is echoed on a much smaller scale – and without the heady scent, which transports you to a hotter, sunny place where bodies bake with a coating of suntan lotion (the gorse smells of sweetened coconut)
Whoever is in charge of the clearance programme is evidently in the camp that thinks ivy strangles healthy trees, since this hawthorn has had its ivy partner cut back severely.
The river walk is dominated by alder, sycamore, blackthorn and hawthorn, with birches and rowans taking over on the other side, but up near the main road bridge is a whitebeam. In early February it was a haze of yellow catkins, and I wasn’t sure what kind of tree it was.
Now the distinctive leaves make id even for me a cinch. We drove through Snowdonia the other day and the roadside was decorated with loads of young whitebeam, the bright silvery leaves contrasting with the acid green new foliage of the birches. Our singleton is less dramatic but still very lovely.
On the other side of the river there is a small copse of mostly birches with some more ornamental trees. If you squint, you can almost imagine yourself in a bluebell wood, except that you could easily count the birches without taking your socks off, and the bluebells are, sadly, Spannish, not native.
But back to my tree, in its little river valley. I have to admit to rambling, rather, I kept getting entranced by all the signs of Spring. New rowan leaves unfurling, on a newly planted sapling, filling a gap created by storm damage, and on a more mature neighbor. They are one of my favourite trees, I love the pinnate foliage.
There are houses that back on to this side of the river, and some have sections of garden that spill down the very steep slope. I always look forward to seeing the area around what I call the “allotment”, because there are always bulbs. Snowdrops are followed by narcissus and fritillaries, and now bluebells, mostly natives, though I am sure this won’t last as the Spannish bluebells hybridise with them and overwhelm their less vigorous stock.
It takes a lot of commitment to tend a veg patch accessible only down such a vertiginous slope!
There is a cluster of wild cherries next, with beautiful white blossom. I do enjoy the pink forms, but the white is very lovely in this sort of setting.
Just before I get to my trees again, there is a series of tidal ponds. These have been the subject of much debate in the village, as they were created with money from the lottery but augmented by the parish council. Some think them a total waste of money, particularly when there has been such a battle to keep the public toilets on the High Street open, but it does create another habitat, and the clearance work is evident here too, along with new plantings of marginals. I should do a post about these ponds one of these days. Though probably not this year!
Anyway, here we are, at my stand of marker trees which tell me that I am opposite my own little cluster.
In early February this was the view:
By March the undergrowth was romping away but the trees themselves didn’t look much different:
At first glance you would be forgiven for thinking that nothing had changed by May, other than the colour of the undergrowth:
But no, finally, we have proof of ID – male flowers say definitely an alder!
The excitement was too much for me. I headed to the steps leading up to the High Street, where the slope, very different to my route down to the river, is smothered in alkanet.
That might sound as if I know what I am talking about, but the truth is these posts take me so long to write because I am constantly having to look up trees and flowers, gradually increasing my knowledge of the native plants. Apparently the roots of alkanet can be used to make a red dye! But I don’t linger, not today, because (drumroll pelase…) the Heritage Centre is finally open!
It has a little garden –
– with a view over the river valley –
– some wonderful displays about the history of the village and the surrounding area –
– and cake…
Now there’s an incentive to contribute to Lucy’s Tree Following meme more regularly from now on!