Monday, 3 May 2010

The trees in Surbiton

[The date on this should actually be 13 May 2010, though I started it nearly a fortnight ago.]

Spring is well advanced. The horse chestnuts are in full leaf and near-full bloom. If they’ve still got the disease they all showed last year (see Label horse chestnuts) there’s no sign of it now.

The oaks are outish. As for the saying about ‘If the oak is out before the ash, summer will but be a splash, If the ash is out before the oak, it’ll be a soak’ (or something more metrical), I don’t think I've seen a single ash tree in Surbiton.

As for the planes, which here are only where they’ve been planted -- and perhaps everywhere? is there such a thing as a wild plane in Britain? -- the general state is ...

[New text:] I wrote the above intending to go out and photograph planes when the weather brightened up. The place to see them is Maple Avenue, which despite its name is a fine avenue of planes. My intention was to insert photos of them, and then to contrast it with the following:

[Original text continues] The one I can see from the back of the flat, though, was lopped on 30th April. I wish I’d photographed it just before but you can see what it looks like now:

On 29th April the shoots that grew since last year’s lopping -- maybe 6 feet long and prolific -- were in visible buds that were beginning to open. I'm interested to see how long the tree takes this year to recover. It’s clear the operation does it no harm, and is entirely necessary for the amenity of the houses and probably for safety.

[New text resumed] Yesterday morning I finally made it down to Maple Avenue and this is what I found:

I'm sure there are other planes in Surbiton, perhaps unlopped, but I can’t think where. I suspect that all planes are under the management of the council who go round each year and do the lot.

Anyway, original text from now on:

Why am I suddenly doing this nature recording? I've been reading Gilbert White’s Natural History of Selborne from the later 18th century. White has earned the huge respect of modern naturalists for his innovatingly thorough and intelligent observation and recording -- a truly Enlightenment enterprise -- except in one respect: when he saw a rare or interesting bird and had his gear with him, he shot it. On those grounds he counts himself a ‘sportsman’. But in those days the bounty of Nature must have seemed inexhaustible.

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