Wednesday, November 28, 2007

City Trees

I was born in a City (Edinburgh) and spent most of my adult life, from Art School onwards, in a City (London). However, in between my childhood was spent in the country and that was where I put down my roots- pun intended!

Rural England and Scotland became a huge part of who I am. Even though to this day I live in a city (Santa Monica) I am still a Country person: “JUST AS THE TWIG IS BENT SO THE TREE’S INCLINED”.

Trees are immensely important, especially in towns where- apart from people- they can sometimes be ones only organic contact.

When I moved into my first own home in London, I planted a conker for my daughter Molly in our small back garden. This conker was from a Horse Chestnut Tree- or “Conker Tree”- that I had grown from a conker when I was a child, living on the Malvern Hills. It grew magnificently.

The roots of a Sycamore Tree, right by the house, were unfortunately damaging our neighbour’s foundations and, to my sorrow, it had to be cut down. However, a miracle happened: as in a Fairy Story, almost overnight, a Gean Tree (Wild Cherry) appeared in its stead- presumably sown by a bird.

These two trees gradually took over the garden, turning it into a glade but providing enormous pleasure- both visually and environmentally- for about 25 years. All the Seasons were played out in that little back yard: in the Spring you could not dream of anything more beautiful than the Gean covered in a cloud of white blossom, obscuring the kitchen window- or the excitement of watching the sticky buds of the Conker tree gradually unfurling to produce magnificent candle-like flowers and the most beautifully designed palmate leaves, made up of 5-7 leaflets. In Summer we ate the cherries and in Autumn the Gean turned lemon yellow, the Conker burnished gold and conkers covered the ground.

Woodland Garden

Conker leaves and Gean Blossom