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!