Now there’s a tree I recognise…
May 29, 2015 by squirrelbasket
These lovely leaves are so familiar to me…
Twice now I have chosen a tree to follow for a year, but even before that I had decided I really must try to identify more species, especially when the trees are bare in winter. At last I think I am getting somewhere.
This spring when I have visited Bute Park in Cardiff to check on my empress tree (a Paulownia tomentosa) I have also watched dozens of other trees come into leaf. There is one I thought I recognised from a distance, as it had the familiar fanned shape of the hornbeam (Carpinus betulus). I had never knowingly seen a hornbeam until I followed a very old one last year and grew to love it.
A second small hornbeam grows in a garden backing on to a street near where I live, but I hadn’t spotted any others until now. This one is tucked away in an area between the arboretum and the herbaceous borders. Here are some images from the last month or so…
Small hornbeam in Bute Park, April 24, 2015
The trunk shows signs of limbs lopped off in the past
One treat I have never had before is being able to look down on a hornbeam branch, as the one I followed last year had a very high crown and no low branches
There were a variety of pretty flowers under the tree…
Beneath the hornbeam in April were pink-coloured bluebells…
White Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica)
I think this is lady’s smock (Cardamine pratensis)
Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) – which is nothing like ivy – and that’s a dandelion leaf on the left
I revisited the hornbeam in Bute Park in early May – and realised it was actually two matching hornbeams! I should have noticed that in one of my earlier pictures…
Two hornbeams – twins?
The trunk of the front tree
Lopped conifer branches have been piled behind the other tree – and maybe forgotten?
There was something pale and pink on one of the branches – at first it looked like a bare patch…
…but on closer inspection it seemed to be a fungus I haven’t been able to identify yet
An even closer look
The shape of a hornbeam is quite distinctive, with a fan of closely-packed long branches
The leaves are a lovely shade of green
…and look even better with a red neighbour
It’s nice to be able to look at the leaves in close-up
Did you spot the wasp? Possibly from the family Eumeninae, a potter wasp?
Beneath the hornbeam in early May were Queen Anne’s lace and dandelions
The bluebells were fading
Still plenty of ground ivy, seen here among buttercup leaves
This is the hornbeam in early May
I visited again on May 21
For comparison, this is the hornbeam I followed last year, pictured in Llandaff Fields in May 2014, while the leaves still had their early yellow-green colour
Now the speedwell (Veronica) flourishes around the Bute Park tree
Hornbeam leaves in May
My tree-identification skills have come a long way. How could I have mistaken last year’s hornbeam for a beech (Fagus sylvatica) when we first met? But I did! There is a grand beech in Bute Park, not far from my new hornbeams…
Crunchy beech mast under foot
A long straight trunk…
…and a huge canopy on high
This beech is at least twice as tall as last year’s hornbeam, which is about twice the size of the pair of hornbeams in Bute Park.
You can see a summary of last year’s hornbeam following here.