Welcome to my third monthly tree-following link box after taking over the project from Loose and Leafy. The box is now closed but you’ll find everyone’s links at the bottom of the post. Go there now if you don’t want to listen to me wittering on!
Although some tree followers choose a tree in one spring and pursue it through to the next, personally I like to follow for a calendar year so I start looking in January. But whenever you start, how do you select your tree?
Where’s that tree?
Some of you will choose a tree in your own garden, which has the advantage of being close at hand if you are a busy person! Some even plant their own tree and follow it from the start.
Some, like myself, use the monthly tree visit as a way to get out and exercise in the fresh air, so choose a tree far enough away that you have to make an effort to reach it – but not so much effort that you can’t always get there.
Big or small?
I don’t think we have had anyone following a bonsai tree yet, so I would suspect big or small is partly about the age of the tree. And in my humble opinion older is better as it brings character – although you are of course free to disagree and go for some bright young thing!
Unless you have a long lens on your camera, the branches need to be accessible for you to see any flowers or fruits.
Love at first sight or an arranged marriage?
I do believe that Hollis in Wyoming has decided this year what species she is looking for and then researched where she can find one within reach of a short expedition every month. Look out for her In the Company of Plants and Rocks post in the link box.
I have also considered this, using Cardiff Council’s park plants database to search for a Ginkgo biloba, but in the end I will probably just wander around and wait to be smitten by a special tree. This has certainly worked for me in the last two years with my hornbeam in a public playing field and a Paulownia in an arboretum. It’s even better when you can’t identify the species until well into the relationship.
Native or exotic?
Wherever you live there will be native trees. Some of them can be special by virtue of their age, size, position, history, ecology, quirkiness or just because they belong to you. Feel free to choose one. But my choice of tree needs to stand out from the crowd in some way – I often eliminate one from my short-list because it is just like the tree next to it.
I particularly like non-native species, as I am easily bored and it is wonderful not knowing what to expect from your tree as it’s one you have never seen before.
Evergreen or deciduous?
When you follow a tree it’s all about change, so I am not sure that an evergreen is a good idea. But feel free to disagree.
I am warming to conifers, though. So much so that I am going to make finding out about them one of my projects for 2016. Lucy Corrander gave great pleasure to us all when she followed a pine tree in 2014 – see here – but I doubt if I will choose just one conifer as my special tree to follow.
I have been slightly swayed by the existence of deciduous conifers like the pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens), though. But amazing colour in autumn and light green shoots in spring are not going to be enough for me.
Just do it
At this time of year you may be swayed by fallen leaves…
You may fall in love with a tree’s bark…
Or you may be dreaming of flowers and fruits to come…
But whatever you decide, enjoy your tree!
The January tree-following link box is now closed, but here are all the contributions we received this month…
Thank you to everyone – see you all again on February 7!