First an apology. I’m so sorry I missed last month’s tree following. I remembered a little too late and the door was closed. I have apologised to the keeper of the Tree Following Portal, the lovely Lucy Corrander looseandleafy.blogspot.co.uk , and I have been absolved for my blogging sins. This generosity of spirit may have been influenced by the fact she didn’t manage to post either. For once in my life I am definitely “in with the in crowd”.
As usual, I digress, let us get back to the subject in hand, the larch, my beautiful larch. Well it is doing quite well. To my mere human eyes anyway. A couple of weeks ago it was looking a little brown in the needle department, slightly singed on the ends, which was a bit of a worry until something else came along to distract my attention. Fortunately it has bucked up signficantly and once more is looking lush and luxuriant. It was quite a dry spring so this may well have stressed the poor chap out. A healthy dose of North Devon rain and all is well again.
There are no signs of new cones as yet and I look as often as I remember and is decent to do so. Now that mid summer has passed and we creep slowly towards the autumn equinox their appearance must be imminent, perhaps next month.
I must rush as I can hear that door beginning to close again and I am not sure I would be forgiven again. I will leave you with my favourite memory of this month, as the larch reaches down its elegant boughs to greet the hay meadow beyond.
On the face of it my larch is doing splendidly. The downy growth of last month is maturing fast and although still fresh-faced now has an increased look of adulthood. An aura of its first flush still remains but is swiftly outgrowing its innocence. However it seems that life has not always been so carefree and rosy for my new friend.
Even the most renown of botanic gardens nail labels to their specimens, it must therefore follow that it is considered harmless by The Wise Ones. Still it makes me cringe. The reason this particular nail was hammered into the blameless trunk is unclear but it pains me to see it there. It seems rather sad to reduce this wonderful tree to a mere notice board or somewhere to hang your fairy lights.
More severe and, in turn, distressing is the trauma towards the base of the tree. At some point in its life it was damaged, perhaps by the dreaded strimmer, perhaps a bunny had a nibble, perhaps a vehicle knocked into it when the driver was distracted by the bunny. A small wound can enlarge as the tree grows making it seem more catastrophic than it was initially. This large area stripped of bark exposing the wood below looks raw and vulnerable. Although not sightly the tree lives on, undaunted by its disfigurement, keeping secret the story of its ordeals. I think I love it all the more for its resilience.
And we are off!!! The larch has finally awoken and each and every branch, branchlet (and curiously also at odd intervals across the trunk) is now covered with thousands upon thousands of lime green whirls. Over the last week or so they have evolved from bashful mini-shaving brushes to porcupines in full display. You can almost feel the energy, their enthusiastic gusto, as they burst forth in a way that surely encapsulates the word “spring”. I can’t help thinking this is going to be the my perfect “watching” moment. That it would be hard to beat this time when everything is so fresh, so innocent. These avocado hued needles have yet to toughen, they are yet to be exposed to wind or rain or harsh sun, they are soft and pliable and vulnerable. But harden they will and they will continue to do their job of feeding this tree throughout the summer into autumn, whether I think they are more or less beautiful than before. That of course is the most important thing.
There is not a lot of action at the moment in Larchland. There may be a slight swelling of buds, but this is probably wishful thinking by Ms Eager Beaver. So I will use this lull in visible activity (I am sure there is a lot going on behind the scenes) to get you up to speed on Larix decidua. We wouldn’t want any embarrassing silences would we? It is a deciduous conifer, native to central Europe and introduced to Britain in the 17th century. It is a fast growing tree and the resulting timber is strong and resistant to rot, however the Japanese larch, Larix kaempferi, is considered superior and is more often grown as a plantation crop. “So how” you may well ask “do you know the difference between the Japanese and the European?”. Well apparently the seed scales on the cones bend downwards in the Japanese tree while the European’s curl upwards. As I have only just discovered this fact, I am very pleased that it appears I have identified this tree correctly, admittedly it was more luck than judgement. Unless, of course, I am deluding myself again and there is a little downward motion ….. no I must be strong in my convictions. These cones with their, undoubtedly up-curling, seed scales may remain on the branch for many years, so it is not even worth loitering just in case the deadlock may be broken by one falling off. Never mind, another month and it could be all steam ahead, otherwise brace yourselves for some more scintillating/sleep inducing facts!