Wonders of trees in winter

Now that springWinter Tree seems finally to have sprung out of the shadows of winter, and buds are fattening fast, I wanted to sing the praises of bare trees and their importance in parks and garden design. Here in London, the Acacia dealbata (Mimosa) trees are ablaze with sulphur-yellow pom-poms, and the winter cherry, Prunus x subhirtella are showing off their delicate, snowflake blossoms, but a sunny walk on Hampstead Heath made me appreciate again the particular beauty of bare branches etched against the sky. The crooked skeleton of our native birch tree, Betula pendula, with its delicate linework of drooping twigs; the burnished red of limes, set against ochre willows; the patterns of lichen on the bark of the elder trees and the patchwork camouflage of planes. This long, hard winter, it’s been so easy to overlook them, heads down, braced against the cold, just longing for it to end.

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