Posted in Tree following

Tree following: Beaming

With Spring in – almost – full swing, the ornamental trees of Gordon square take centre stage and it is easy to overlook the youthful Hornbeam at the perimeter entrance.

But here it is, ankle-deep in hellebore, bluebell and epimediums, already showing a respectable canopy of vibrant, textured leaves.

Only 2 weeks ago, the tree was a mass of hop-like male flowers.. Now the catkins are spent and litter the ground below.  The few remaining ones can be seen in amongst the foliage and some well-camoflagued, fertilised, female flowers.

Aside from observing the sex of its flowers, I’m learning to visually disentangle Carpinus betulus L from Fagus sylvaticus since though unrelated, they begin the season with almost identical leaves – and similarly hang on to their dessicated forms in winter. Both are desirable for hedging and I’ve just read (but not noticed!) that 2 of my local squares are bounded with Hornbeam, which will provide subject matter for another post.

Meanwhile, clearing my hard drive of unwanted images, I discovered that the camera had already been drawn to this Hornbeam. Back in mid-April 2013, it hardly has any leaves whereas now it is already quite flush with foliage. That’s one for phenlogy, as this year has been a warm, wet winter compared to a much colder 2013 and as I wrote in March that year: “Spring cleared the equinox on the 21st but today’s weather in London is:2°C East-North-Easterly wind”

Although the Hornbeam inhabits the relatively wild and sylvan Gordon Square, it is very much an urban tree, bearing up against pollutants from the roads that run around the periphery, On the North-Western side it oversees the passers-by, and positively beams with the morning sun on its fluted flanks.

Tree Following with Lucy: There’s a link box on Loose and Leafy on 7th of the month for 7 days. Every month!



playing with photography @ eljaygee whilst Tell Tale Therapy has a weakness for words

18 thoughts on “Tree following: Beaming

  1. It’s even more lovely than I realised from your first post about it. I’m pleased it has its ankles in flowers. Not every tree has. The light shows the nature of its trunk in these pictures really well – and it’s interesting to see its own flowers. How wonderful that you have pictures of it from last year. I need to go back through my own photo archive to check – but I’ve been thinking that, unlike in other parts of the country, our spring here on the Dorset coast is a little late.


    1. the archive shot was a pleasant surprise especially as it showed such a difference between the years. thank you for your in-depth comments Lucy and for hosting this – a fascinating project and I’m loving my choice this year!!


  2. beautiful photos Laura, the carpet of plants at your Hornbeam’s feet sound wonderful, it’s so nice to take a closer look and your images and details are interesting, in the city warmth of London your tree is far on from the wee hornbeams in my garden that are only just starting to open leaf buds, a nice coincidence finding photos from a previous year, I find plants vary greatly with the weather, I bought my hornbeams for hedging but they have never done well and I have lost some, I learnt many years later that they do not do well at the coast, they are not salt tolerant, Frances


  3. Lovely post. Your London trees are always so much further on than ours. Do you know how old your tree is? It is strange to think of the Bloomsbury group looking out of their windows and maybe seeing your tree. In fact I seem to remember Virginia Woolf saying something about a lovely tree she saw from her window. I can’t remember what though.
    I think the new leaves are similar to those of the beech tree but I think beech leaves are smooth-edged. They also look smoother and shinier to me.


    1. not an old tree -planted just a few years back by nearby Archaeology Insitute. Woolf may have seen some of the big limes that are here:“it was astonishing to stand at the drawing room window and look into all those trees; the tree which shoots its branch up into the air and lets them fall in a shower; the tree which glistens after rain like the body of a seal”


      1. I thought it didn’t look old enough to have been seen by Virginia but lovely that you still have the limes that she admired. Thank you for coming up with the lovely quote. It stuck in my mind that the wet tree glistened like a wet seal but I couldn’t remember the rest.


  4. Hi Laura: Glad to see you here on this (new?) blog! The tree you selected certainly has a lot of character, too. Your explanations helped me to understand it better. Great post!


  5. I always marvel at the success of Nature in our cities and thank goodness they are resilient enough to survive the street pollution! Sounds like your tree lives in its own little oasis.


    1. it’s in one of Bloomsbury’s wildest squares. In London we have trees on so many of our streets which act like an oxygen tent! p.s. London tree week is 11-18 May & I’ll be featuring one a day in celebration on my photoblog


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