Officially it’s almost Spring but wintry weather has delayed the onset which means there is not much to update on the Laburnum tree that I’m observing and recording this year. Instead that leaves (!) some space and time for a quick retrospective.
The wonderful thing about ‘tree following’ is how quickly the observed and observer become entwined, and little wonder too that we anthropomorphize them with mythological traits. In 2011, the Black Poplar of Russell Square (left) was my chosen subject and I still keep a weather eye on her. Yes, it’s a female specimen and in winter looks every bit the fabled Greek representation of the Heliades, grief-stricken sisters of Phaeton, petrified by perpetually mourning his death.
I’ve not been back to check on the Camperdown elms of Old St Pancras churchyard which I kept pace with last year. They are three elderly specimens, which with their gothic, contorted limbs, readily morphed into the sisters of fate: Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. Actually they are not dissimilar looking to the one that is also growing in Gordon Square (right) though nothing like the beautiful umbrella specimen of Grays Inn.
Now for 2013 it is the turn of Laburnum anagyroides and Tolkien aficionados will know that in his mythology it is derived from the Laurelin – a golden tree at the dawn of creation which was destroyed and whose fruit became the sun. Although never re-created a copy was crafted by Turgon and is known as the Glingal.
Laburnum trees are short-lived and this one is showing its age with broken, surface roots and bark mutilations. It has a melded multi-trunked, bi-coloured bole, being reddish-brown on one side and distinctly grey on the other (is that an Ork embedded in the bark?). Even after all that our windy weather has thrown at it, the laburnum tree is hanging on to its dry, highly poisonous seed-pods which glow copper on this clear winter’s day.