Monday, 25 March 2013

Plane Tree - Winter 2012/2013

I've been 'following' a London Plane tree for a year now, and this post is the last of the series. It is one of Compton Verney's most prominent trees, and is perfectly located - centrally in the grounds. I've posted a number of articles which recorded the changes through the seasons, and what a year we've had!

We're now at the tail end of winter, at least I like to think so, and Mother Nature has thrown everything possible at the tree. Open to the elements on three sides it picks up the worst of the winds, and in its leaf-less state; it is amazing how the branches whip about. The branches look so brittle, but they hide a great deal of strength and elasticity.


At the foot of the tree sit clusters of snowdrops that this year at least; are late flowering. The snowdrops make the most of the winter light beneath this deciduous tree, and also benefit from the dry soil beneath the tree during the summer months - the moisture uptake by a tree of this size is immense. Daffodils and Violets also litter the ground around the base of the tree, and they all blend like a soft skirt around the timber that towers above. 
Persistent rain, hoar frosts, biting easterly winds that skim across the east park, and snow that clings to the stem; it has withstood the lot. Of course it has its weaknesses, and the tree isn't without a sprinkling of branches at its base, on one side it even likes to dip its twigs in the icy waters of Compton Verney's lake. It is a hulk of a tree with thick stems branching over the drive, the bridge, the lawns and the lake, but its graceful shape and mottled trunk delight all who pass by. It is a tree worth growing, nurturing and promoting; it is one of Compton Verney's grandest possessions. 

It's been really interesting following this tree over the last year. So much has happened. As mentioned above it has withstood a whole range of weather fronts. It has welcomed and waved goodbye to thousands of visitors, all of whom pass beneath its delicate branches and by its knobbly trunk. A major event saw a Spitfire swirling above its crown, and on many of the warmer nights, bats swirl beneath the very same crown. On a site with so many trees, it is easy to pass it by without a care, especially as the Georgian mansion competes for attention, but never must it be said that this tree is plain, for it is anything but.

London Plane, Platanus x hispanica. Compton Verney Number 377.
Gary Webb

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