Tag Archives: follow a tree

Following my Tree: June

June 14th, 2015 | 5 Comments »

Sometimes trees are part of a forest, sometimes they stand alone. As a child, the lone tree at the top of the field by my grandparents’ house in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia was a beacon, calling me out of the fenced farmyard and into adventure. The fact that it was a forbidden destination only made the tree more appealing.

Roop Farm
I took this photo of the old poplar tree — probably a liriodendron, or tulip poplar — about a dozen years ago, looking down from the hilltop towards the old barn. The farmhouse is out of the picture, off to the right.


Is that why the single linden, or basswood, tree at Glen Villa speaks to me so memorably? It stands alone at the end of the big lawn, not silhouetted against the sky like the tree at my grandparents’ farm but backed by a hillside of trees, shades of green that in autumn become magnificence incarnate.


Autumn foliage becomes more dramatic against a stormy sky. I took this photo a few years ago.
Autumn foliage becomes more dramatic against a stormy sky. I took this photo a few years ago.


I’ve travelled a lot this year, and haven’t been at Glen Villa, my house in rural Quebec, to chronicle the linden’s growth. Not that it is growing much: at 100 years or more, it has reached its full height and girth. Still, having decided to be part of Lucy Corrander’s ‘following a tree’ meme at Loose and Leafy, (thanks as always, Lucy) each month I’ve found something to say.

In January, I choose my tree, thankfully discarding the little contorted hazel (Corylus avellana ‘Red Majestic’) that I ‘followed’ in 2014. (I came to dislike that tree quite heartily. I’m not unhappy to report that winter almost did it in.)  In February, escaping the winter’s brutal cold in an only slightly warmer South Carolina, I wrote about the various names the tree goes by, and why I call it a linden rather than a basswood, the more commonly used name in these parts. In March I wrote factually about the tree and how, for me, it conforms to the Platonic ideal form. As the snow was melting in early April, I described what is underneath the tree — a blue haze of grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) that fills the tree’s shadow line. I was in Italy in May, and without access to images of the linden,  I photographed the beautiful trees that were blooming around me and showed them instead.

But now it is June, and I’m home again. I missed this year’s blue haze of muscari altogether — a pity, since for me it signals the beginning of the growing season.

This photo looking towards the house is from 2010.
This photo looking towards the house is from 2010.


Yesterday, under perfect early summer conditions, the linden showed itself in full glory, fat and round and leafy.


Muscari mimic the shadow line of the tree, like a bruise healing after winter.
Blue muscari mimic the shadow line of the tree, like a bruise healing after a hurtful winter. We leave the grass longer to allow the muscari foliage to die back naturally.


The blossoms that give the linden its distinct perfume are beginning to form now. They aren’t showy — in fact, they are quite inconspicuous. For several weeks they and the paler green leaflet that accompanies them will hang down heavily, giving the tree a despondent air — like a child dropping her head in shame.


The leaves are shiny green, the buds a paler shade.
Although the tree looks droopy, there is no reason for it to be ashamed of itself. Once the buds open, the air will be sweetly perfumed. Bees love the nectar.


A close-up of the leaf shows its rounded shape and sharply serrated edges.

late afternoon garden-012
Those tiny round balls will open to become sweetly fragrant blooms.


I’m sure some botanist can properly identify the thin pale green leaf-like form that is growing above the flower buds. A Wikipedia search suggests it may be a phyllode (plural phyllodes), defined as a ‘flattened petiole or leaf rachis that resembles and functions as a leaf and may or may not be combined with actual lamina.”

That may be, but since I had to look up three of the terms, I am far from certain. So while I can’t name it, I can admire the paler shade that contrasts with the deeper green heart-like leaves. And I can love the tree that both are part of.

Which I do.

Following My Tree: March

March 10th, 2015 | 6 Comments »
My linden tree (Tilia Americana) is still trunk-deep in snow. And I am still far from home. So again this month, I can’t post an up-to-date photo of the tree as it is. I can, though, post photos of the tree as it has been. And those photos, taken from a collection that spans the last ten years or so, show me that the tree conforms perfectly to descriptions I find on-line, on various government and educational websites.     [caption id="attachment_1594" align="aligncenter" width="850"] Bees enjoy the nectar of blossoms in


Following a Tree: What’s in a Name?

February 9th, 2015 | 4 Comments »
This year I am following the tree at the end of the big lawn at Glen Villa, my garden in rural Quebec. The botanical name of the  tree is Tilia americana. I call it a linden. That's not wrong -- the tree is a member of the linden family. Like many living things, it goes by several names. In England, it is a lime tree. In North America it is commonly known as basswood. Today I'm far from home, on holiday some 1800 kilometres/ 1100 miles to the south. So I can't trudge across the snow


A New Tree to Follow

January 7th, 2015 | 16 Comments »
Last year I 'followed' a tree, a rather pitiful corkscrew hazel, becoming less and less enamoured with it as each month passed. But I enjoyed the process of closely examining the tree and chronicling the changes month to month -- and I enjoyed following other trees written about by other tree lovers from around the world. I did this thanks to a meme hosted by the English blogger Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy. All this led me to decide to 'follow' a tree again this year. But instead of following a


Reflecting on My Tree — and On Other Things

November 9th, 2014 | 10 Comments »
Last week I wrote about reflections in the garden. I intended to continue the theme this week... and I will return to it. But this week I'm reflecting in a different way, looking back at where I've been, considering where I'm going to go.   [caption id="attachment_1399" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] We leave our mark wherever we go.[/caption]   For the last few months I've been taking part in a meme organized by Lucy Corrander of Loose and Leafy (great blog name, Lucy!). Starting in March this year, I've 'followed' a corkscrew hazel


Following my tree: October

October 14th, 2014 | 11 Comments »
Yesterday was Canadian Thanksgiving, a holiday that usually coincides with the best colour of the fall season. This year, colours hit their peak a week or so ago, and are still going strong. They were, and are, spectacular! [caption id="attachment_1285" align="alignnone" width="1000"] I haven't enhanced the colours. This is really what the view over The Skating Pond looked like at the end of a beautiful day.[/caption] Not so the colours of my poor little corkscrew hazel. I'm starting to feel sorry for the tree: it is trying so hard and simply


Following my tree, down a colourful garden path

September 7th, 2014 | 9 Comments »
It's that time of month again, time to write about the tree I started following in March this year. My corkscrew hazel (Corylus avellana 'Red Majestic') is looking about as tired as the rest of the garden -- late August and early September are not prime times at Glen Villa.Something is eating the hazel leaves.Something likes the leaves of this corkscrew hazel.They are welcome to it.The leaves are looking decidedly weary. Not to mention spotty and full of holes.So instead of writing about this unattractive tree, I'm writing about some


Following my Tree: August

August 3rd, 2014 | 13 Comments »
Corylus avenllana is the proper name of the tree I am following, corkscrew hazel is its common name, and Harry Lauder's Walking Stick is its nickname.This nickname was what attracted me to the plant many years ago. That and a photo of a full-grown plant.This photo of a full grown contorted hazel is from the on-line site Dave's Garden.I loved the twisted branches and knew it would be an outstanding plant in winter months, with the contorted branches silhouetted against the snow. Plus I was intrigued by the name. Who was


A different way to follow my tree: July

July 7th, 2014 | 12 Comments »
The Corylus avellana 'Red Majestic' has grown in the last month -- not much but enough that its head now rises above the wooden rail that marks the back edge of the border.The colour of the leaves reminds me of Heuchera 'Palace Purple.'I chose this tree because of the colour of the leaves, and I continue to find them a wonderful contrast to the blue spruce and the sharp green of amsonia. Unfortunately, to see this colour contrast you have to stand at the edge of bank, a precarious position


Following my tree: June

June 8th, 2014 | 15 Comments »
Finally the corkscrew hazel (Corylus avellana 'Red Majestic') has leafed out.The colour and texture of these leaves caught my eye last year.Impulse buying: not a great idea.The rich deep burgundy leaves are the main reason I bought the small tree last year. The leaves and the wonderfully contorted branches.The twisted branches create a confusing outline on the small tree, but in a close-up they are fabulous.As a small tree, the corkscrew hazel looks quite silly, in my opinion. When it's bigger, will it be better? A photo sent by a friend from Newfoundland shows her