Tree Following 2015: Streetwise

tavistock square collage - lime walk in winter
Tilia walkway in Tavistock SquareJust to re-cap – my Tree Following project this year is to pursue not one but one of many – in fact there are approximately 120 of them, spaced around the perimeter walkway of Tavistock Square.

These are Lime trees otherwise known as Lindens. The older specimens are Tilia × europaea hybrids but a number of these have died and been replaced with  different cultivars. A faded tag suggested Tilia platyphollus or the big-leaved lime. Reviewing it now I also see the word ‘Streetwise’ and some arboreal detective work proves that indeed there is such a lime tree cultivar:1-IMG_0001

“Large. Upright habit and dark glossy leaf. Outstanding red winter shoot colour. Very striking tree, ideal for wide avenues, and the toughest urban situation. Unlike other Tilia platyphyllos, this Hillier selection has purple-brown autumn colour, similar to that of Acer platanoides Crimson King. Good avenue tree.” Hilliers Trees

All the trees are pollarded annually or bi-annually which means their branches are pruned back to a stump, creating a shorter trunk and a compact canopy of dense foliage. This makes for less shading and possibly extends the life of the trees, as well as sculpting an array of different characters, particularly amongst the older lime trees.

Whilst the season is still in its dull and overcast wintry grip, it’s a good opportunity to compare the skeletal structures of the two Tilia cultivars. Top row the T. × europaea are in leaf bud from top-notch to twiggy bottoms. The trunk is dark and creviced vertically with burls sprouting all up the stem. By contrast the ‘streetwise’ Tilia platyphollus have little definition perhaps because of their youth. The trunks are mottled and smooth and fit the’lime’ nomenclature so well because they appear to be dusted with said mineral

Amongst the living, there are still more casualties though so far decimation is confined to the mature trees. Perhaps age or excessive shade from London planes is responsible or even accidental injury from pollarding. These decaying stumps provide shelters for insects and ultimately are a food source for insect eaters. Some tree damage is obviously due to squirrels stripping the bark but I am not sure which came first – rodent damage or death.

Four rotations around Tavistock Square equals a mile which gives me plenty of exercise and a growing familiarity with the lime trees all along walkway. Meanwhile in the perimeter beds early spring flowers bring a touch of vigour to an otherwise static landscape.

It will be interesting to compare and contrast the younger streetwise limetrees with their European elders throughout the seasons as I am Tree Following with Lucy: There’s a link box on Loose and Leafy on 7th of the month for 7 days. Every month!


7 thoughts on “Tree Following 2015: Streetwise

  1. I’m also following a Tilia — Tilia americana. It will be interesting to compare the habits of the different types of lindens throughout the year. ‘My’ linden, or basswood, is at least 60 ft tall and perhaps a century old or a little less. It doesn’t show in photos of the large resort hotel that stood on the property, which burned to the ground in 1909. Since it is native to the area, it will have seeded itself sometime after that.


  2. Lovely! And the wildlife and flowers – your daffodils are early!
    I so look forward to watching your limes. We have so many in Cardiff but I usually have trouble working out whether they are large-leaved, small-leaved or crosses. Although over the years I have sometimes noticed that certain trees have small leaves and certain have big leaves!
    All the best 🙂


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