Following my Tree: May

After a month away, it feels good to be home again in North Hatley. I was travelling for four weeks, first in southern Africa and then in Italy where I co-led a group of women through gardens that ranged from the first century A.D. to a contemporary art installation garden that is still very much in progress. I’ll write about those Italian gardens in future posts. But today, it’s time once again to ‘follow’ my tree.


The development over the last month has been… disappointing. Yes, my tiny little corkscrew hazel has lost its winter coat, the burlap bag that kept it cozy over the endless winter of 2013-2014. But that is almost the only change since early April.

The tree as a whole doesn’t look promising yet.
Maybe when it is taller it will be better. I hope so. 

The tree is about three feet tall and almost three feet wide. It needs to be bigger to have a real presence; for now, the contorted branches simply look messy. Are they too close together? Should I be pruning some? If so, when?

A terrible tangle. Will it look good eventually?


Thanks to that burlap overcoat, there was little die back over the winter. Plus there is new growth, evident in the colour of the bark. The new branches are a warm honey colour…

Beige on beige, a new branch against mulch.

while the older ones are a rich grey-brown, tinged with purple.

The striations on the bark add interest.
Do they serve some purpose or are they merely decorative?

 There are buds…

I count 7 buds on this branch. 

Close up, it possible to believe that the buds will open up to become interesting leaves. But it does take some imagination. And some hope.

The terminal bud looks promising.

Other trees in the garden are budding more vigourously: the crabapples in the Asian meadow….

Buds and lichen on the branch of a crabapple tree in the meadow
make a nice colour contrast.

and the small horse chestnut tree that turns a brilliant red in autumn.

More buds

The magnolia buds are full of juice and almost-ness.

Next month this fuzzy bud should be a beautiful pale pink flower.


In the woods, ferns are unfolding.

These ferns look like old ladies in fuzzy shawls, huddled together for a good chat.
The tall one is the bossy one, I think.

But the best part of coming home to the garden is seeing the daffodils on the berm by the Skating Pond.

A host of daffodils on the hillside above the Skating Pond.

On a grey day, they shine out, a promise of spring days still to come.