Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The last trees of summer

As the very last leaves fall from the London planes outside the window, I thought an arboricultural intermezzo might not go amiss. I never managed to wax lyrical about the trees of Zurich, enjoyment of which was much enhanced by using Walburga Liebst's Von Baum zu Baum: ein Fuhrer zu besonderen Baume Zurichs before leaving it behind as a gift for our generous hosts. In the Old Botanic Gardens auf der Katz she led us up the hill to the towering Osagedorn

and down again to Sorbus latifolia in full bloom.

Thomas Mann's residence, which I blogged back in August, has a robust Platanus orientalis outside its front door

while another graces the Botanic Gardens in Vienna.

Outside the city, the most welcome sight to me: beech woods on the ascent of the Raxalp.

Back in Blighty, I look fondly on this old copper beech as our Norfolk churches walk took us from Tilney to the Wiggenhalls.

Dawyck in the Scottish Borders will still be showing off its splendid evergreens, but the rowans and silver birches up the hill will have lost fruit and leaf if not lichen.

Coming home, I must end on a sober note. I've never stooped to mention the constant battles we have here with our management. In the latest outrage they told us that the 21 black poplars on the boundary were causing subsidence to a row of poorly-constructed garages and needed to be cut down because the insurers had insisted on it.

We asked to see the documentation; insufficient proof was provided. We asked the council to intervene; it also failed to see the evidence it wanted and placed a tree preservation order for an interim period of six months so it could investigate. While this was set up, the felling began unannounced. We lost four trees before the council could physically slap the order on the tree company employed. Now the management has prevented the council from distibuting its TPO notices around the blocks, claiming their letter had falsely stated that the gap was visible from the local park. Here's the ocular proof that it is - bad for the residents, bad for the park users, bad for the loss of bird- and bat-friendly nooks and crannies.

Dull pictures, I know, but they give some idea of what we've already lost in an afternoon's unadvertised hacking, and what we will continue to lose if we're not all vigilant.

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