Laburnum: failing to love

laburnum 'anagyroides' in AprilI’ve not kept up with recording my chosen tree for this year partly because it has been a somewhat uninspiring, stop-start kind of tree following.

Things have not been helped by the remarkably late Spring so that by the end of April, albeit under summery looking skies, the Laburnum was virtually unchanged from the previous month.

Corrugated and bare, its branches formed a pincered shadow over the loungers in the grass. The somewhat sinister effect was enhanced by the fact that the tree still poised its poisonous seed pods, which resemble stragglers from last Christmas’ decorations.

In the following few weeks, life took on an accelerated pace as if Spring was trying to catch up with itself. Trees burst their leaves in pastel canopies or vibrant greens…but the Laburnum sauntered in with a less-than-enthusiastic, smattering of foliage.

laburnum vs spring tree
Laburnum (centre) outleafed by other urban trees in Spring growth

At the start of the month I was anxious to see how far the tree had advanced before taking a break from London. I need not have worried for there were just the beginnings of the flowing, pea-flowered racemes, albeit in a dense thicket of mid-green leaves. Meanwhile…

L. anagyroides vs Laburnum x watereri
L to R: Anagyroides foliage and flowers; Voss’s laburnum in full flower

…in nearby Tavistock square the newly-planted Laburnum hybrids (L. x watereri x vossii or Voss’s laburnum) were displaying their longer, leguminous cascades in dense sulphur tones, with a perfume that maddened the bees.

Finally in mid-June,  Laburnum anagyroides rose up to meet its epithet of ‘golden chain tree’ but even this marvellous sight did little to arouse my interest. You have to get stuck on a tree to want to follow it and I’ve not gelled with the Glingal of Gordon Square. Still I shall remain faithful until a new year begins.
 laburnum anagyroides in summerPostscript: peer closely on the larger view and there is the bronze sculpture to the poet and polymath Rabindranath Tagore so it is perhaps fitting to end with his words:

By plucking her petals, you do not gather the beauty of the flower.

see Loose and Leafy’s Tree Followers
more arborophiles @ Tree blogging


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