It’s already June in the tree-following year and it’s all change for the beautiful empress tree (Paulownia tomentosa, also known as the foxglove tree) in Bute park Arboretum in the middle of Cardiff.
I have visited a couple of times this month to take part in Lucy Corrander’s monthly tree-following meme on Loose and Leafy.
After enthusing so much about the tree’s beautiful purple flowers last month, I knew it couldn’t last, but I wasn’t sure how much the blooms would overlap with the expected new leaves. So I left it a couple of weeks and went back on May 21.
A few days later I took a detour on my way home as I had noticed from the bus that if you stood in one particular place on the main Canton Bridge some distance away you could spot the empress tree, purely because of its distinctive colour. It was drizzling, but I managed to catch a couple of shots…
I thought that was it for the month, but then on Friday night we were walking home from an event at the university where my husband works and he showed me his favourite shortcut across the city, which passes through the parts of Bute Park I already know but which started in an area I had never visited. It was the corner I hadn’t yet reached in my arboretum walks, “beyond” the empress tree, where it’s full of conifers.
It was nearly sunset and we came on the empress tree from a very strange direction. It was so strange, with the cafe closed and looking like a shed, that I didn’t at first think it was the same empress tree. I was disorientated. It looked a much fatter tree than I remembered and there were flowers almost at eye level. For a moment I felt disappointment that maybe there were TWO empress trees?
But it was OK, once I had accustomed myself to the unfamiliar direction of the sun and gone around to the other side of the empress to see her belly-button and check on her label, I was sure once again she was the lady I knew and loved.
But she did look a bit rough!
The husband didn’t think much of “my” tree and hurried on. Oh dear, have I been fooled by the empress’s new clothes? Is she really in the altogether? But he wasn’t wearing his specs so wouldn’t have seen the detail I see.
I’m not looking forward to next month’s tree following. I’ll miss the purple flowers more than I ever mourned the early catkins that fell like dead caterpillars from the hornbeam I followed last year. And I don’t think the weather will treat this tree well. Summer is not my favourite time…
See Loose and Leafy for news from all the other tree-followers.
See all my empress tree posts here.
See all my hornbeam posts here.
See all my tree posts of any kind here.