2015 tree following 3: Nothing to see here…
April 11, 2015 by squirrelbasket
No flowers yet on the empress tree (Paulownia tomentosa)
I was really hoping this time that the empress tree in Bute Park, Cardiff, would be showing off her purple foxglove-like blooms. But nothing.
On my third 2015 visit for Lucy Corrander’s Loose and Leafy tree following project I went to the park on the afternoon of March 26.
As the magnolias and cherry trees were now more or less in bloom, I thought the Paulownia tomentosa would also be one of those early spring flowerers, but no, so instead I had to make do with wandering around beneath the tree to see what I could find.
I approached from a different direction and the empress rather gets lost among the other trees…
I still love that mix of dark and light branches
The low sun shining on the empress’s trunk
I’ve grown attached to this broken branch I notice every time I visit
The buds don’t look very different from last time…
…or are they starting to split open?
Looking down there were some observations of interest…
A daisy (Bellis perennis) on stony ground
Is this a mole-hill among the celandine (Ranunculus ficaria)?
Nearby were some more mole-hills of rich black loam
This is where I have to confess that I thought I would miss something, so I visited again on Friday, April 10, just to make sure the empress STILL wasn’t in flower yet. She wasn’t. But as I went in the morning (I usually go in the afternoon), the direction of the sunlight meant I saw a different side to the Paulownia.
The empress on April 10
From the other side
The old fruits and new buds from a different angle
For the first time I realised the broken branch I so admire has completely fallen and is caught on another branch…
…and this seems to be where the broken branch fell from
More worrying, this big bough seems to be splitting, too – the empress is a very old lady
All around now the cuckoo pints (Arum maculatum) are growing among the feathery leaves of wild parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris)
…and tiny blue speedwell flowers (Veronica) are coming through, although this is a rubbish picture!
In the absence of much else to say about my tree, I trawled the internet to see what items are made of Paulownia wood. I found these four items – although some of the websites looked a little bit abandoned. I also learned a couple of new words (tenugui and paipo)
Japanese Paulownia gift box containing a delicate cotton hand-towel or scarf, known as a tenugui – click on the picture to go to the Karaku Tokyo website
Chinese model boat kit made of Paulownia wood – click on the picture to go to the AliExpress website
You can make your own guitar from Paulownia, too – click on the image to go to the Chinese-based BYGuitar website
And finally, because Paulownia wood is so light and is resistant to salt water when oiled, it is ideal for making surfboards – which brings us to the word paipo, meaning a Hawaiian-style bodyboard used for surfing the waves in a prone position, not standing up, as these boards have no central fin underneath for stability…
A Hawaiian-style paipo bodyboard made of Paulownia with a fish design – click on the picture to go to the Surfboard Art in Wales website
Hopefully next time the empress will be in flower?