On my June visit to the old hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) in Llandaff Fields I hoped to see the developing fruits, but I knew they would be high up in the branches, so in advance I picked one from the much smaller roadside hornbeam I pass on the way to work.
Then I chose the one dry day of the week (again – it has rained a lot lately) to visit the fields to do my monthly update for Lucy Corrander’s great Loose and Leafy tree-following project.
This time I was surprised to find that I can check from a great distance that the hornbeam is still standing, as long as I enter the fields on the right path…
I took with me my new compact camera (a Sony Cybershot X50), which I am still trying to assess, so I snapped many of the same shots I had previously taken with my trusty Olympus C-765 ultra-zoom.
So anyway, there I was walking around under the tree, pointing my camera up into the canopy, when I hear a voice: “Work or art?”
It was a lovely lady (I know our newspaper’s house style is “woman”, but it always sounds a bit coarse to me and “lovely lady” alliterates, anyway).
We ended up having a long chat.
I will retain her anonymity, but essentially she was in from the Vale of Glamorgan, dropping her daughter off at the school nearby for her A-levels and walking her little Jack Russell terrier-type dog here in the fields – possibly for the last time.
So she was feeling a little sad at the end of things and the beginning of a new stage in her family’s life as her daughter heads off to university.
She thought the tree was a beech, as I had at first. But I showed her the star-shaped fruits up on high…
The fruits are hard to see, green against green, but hopefully will show up more when they turn dry and brown as the year goes on. They are formed as a bunch of individual nuts, each partially surrounded by a three-pointed bract. Such bracts in a whorl are called an involucre.
Meanwhile the lady in red (as she was) and I exchanged phone numbers and email addresses and later I was able to publish some community news for her in our newspaper.
Then she went off on her way, with her lively little terrier. I do hope she comes back, even if it will take a special journey now.
I turned back to the tree. There wasn’t much more to see, really, apart from the low-growing plants round about…
I wonder who I will meet next time?