Two days in the lives of two London trees in spring 2011

I was concluding that the leaves would never return to London’s trees when, in the snap of two fingers, the spring is rushing ahead. The above two photographs were taken two days apart, as March turned to April. The weather was much colder than usual before Christmas but since then has been relatively warm.

Three days more growth

The same scene three weeks later

22 thoughts on “Two days in the lives of two London trees in spring 2011

  1. Ofer

    I think it was about the 1980′, a research about deciduous fruit trees in Israel showed how deciduous trees really work. It was actually for a practice so growers that needed spraying on the first few days of budding could know exactly when it will be. So, they found that trees ”count cold hours” and once the amount of cold hours were given the tree will bloom or bud. If the weather is warmer than more hours needed. That is a safe way to guess when the winter is ended for the trees. Calculating these cold hours is still in use for some growers. Of course different trees needs different amount of cold hours. So the funny thing is that actually trees that needs many cold hours will not back to grow if grown in much warmer areas.

  2. Tim Aldiss

    I too spotted this amazing overnight shift. In hope it coincided with a good dose of sea mist – the trees did seem to need that extra dose of water in the air to jog them into life. I will post a piccy of the lovely green-ing view down the long avenues to the beach here.

  3. Tian Yuan

    Wonderful comparison! It makes me think of a classical Chinese poetry in Tang Dynasty, Censhen, who once had a similar feeling as you and wrote a poem. A sentence in it describes this amazing view of trees: ‘忽如一夜春风来,千树万树梨花开’. It means, just experience a night of spring wind, a thousand of pear tress blossoms.

  4. Tian Yuan

    lovely poem,but I think you misunderstood me. I am going to say your london trees are not beautiful,actually they are nice. What I intended to express was: the comparison of the TREES evokesa my memory about POEM. Therefore, TREES can be more lovely than POEM.:-)

  5. Tom Turner Post author

    I was just trying to think of a poem about trees.
    We have a ‘Chinese proverb’ in English – which makes me wonder if you have the same proverb in Chinese: ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.’
    And here is another proverb about trees (in my native language, Lalands) “Jock, when ye hae naething else to do, ye may be aye slicking in a tree; it will be growing, Jock, when ye’re sleeping.’

  6. Tom Turner Post author

    ‘Melancholy’ is hardly strong enough for the tone of the Beach Boys song. In Scotland they sing far more cheerful song about the pools of blood oozing fom ranks of the fallen so wickedly slain by the evil English. Does too much beach pleasure lead to ennui?

  7. Christine

    Supposedly leisure and a lack of aesthetic interests can result in boredom. So perhaps too much beach pleasure could result in boredom.

    “Boredom is a condition characterized by perception of one’s environment as dull, tedious, and lacking in stimulation. This can result from leisure and a lack of aesthetic interests. Labor, however, and even art may be alienated and passive, or immersed in tedium. There is an inherent anxiety in boredom; people will expend considerable effort to prevent or remedy it, yet in many circumstances, it is accepted as suffering to be endured. Common passive ways to escape boredom are to sleep or to think creative thoughts (daydream). Typical active solutions consist in an intentional activity of some sort, often something new, as familiarity and repetition lead to the tedious.”

    But I think ennui, is something else. [ ] It suggests a form of discontent and dissatisfaction with the status quo (differing from that experienced in boredom).

    Do you think the Beach Boys song exhibits this characteristic?

  8. Christine

    ps. I think the tree in the youtube clip is experiencing some sort of existential alienation due to its environment.

  9. Tian Yuan

    Tom, we have a similar Chinese proverb as it, which is 十年树木,百年树人. It takes ten years to grow a tree and a hundred years to bring up a generation of good men.

    Your native proverb is quite nice. I have not planted a tree, but I have plants some wild herb and wild flowers. They grows very well this spring. I love this part of this proverb: they are growing while we are sleeping.

  10. Tom Turner Post author

    Yuan: The Scots have a reputation for being hard-working and careful with money, so it makes me smile to think of the pleasure they take in the idea of a tree making money while the owner sleeps – I do not think they were as interested in the poetic qualities of trees (I think of ‘them’ because I am not a real Scotsman).
    Here is a quotation from the Scotsman who founded America’s National Parks (and thus all the world’s National Parks): “God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.” John Muir (1838-1914) came from the same part of Scotland as me. He left, with has parents, at the age of 11. The grandparents cried at the dockside knowing that they would never see the young family again. I wonder if this encouraged his interest in conservation.
    Christine: thank you for the definitions – I think the Beach Boys would be happier if they spent more time and effort planting trees.

  11. Lawrence

    In the interests of pedantry someone should point out that the tree in question will not get its leaves for a little while longer yet – aren’t these the early flowers of Acer platanoides?

  12. Tom Turner Post author

    I have found some more good tree proverbs, and did not know the Chinese held trees in such high regard;
    Forests precede civilisations and deserts follow them ( Chateaubriand)
    High trees catch a lot of wind (Dutch proverb)
    No shade tree? Blame not the sun, but yourself ( Chinese proverb)
    Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come ( Chinese proverb)
    Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong ( Winston Churchill)
    One generation plants the trees under which another takes its ease (Chinese Proverb)
    The tree that stands above the others gets blown down (Chinese proverb)

  13. Lawrence

    I would have expected the Germans to have more to offer, but could only find
    “Old trees shouldn’t be moved”
    I particularly liked this Japanese version of the Dutch proverb:
    “The higher the tree, the more jealous the wind”
    And the somewhat tragic Rhodesian:
    “A fallen leaf never returns to the tree”

  14. Tom Turner Post author

    Christine: great idea for making trees more popular!
    Lawrence, not a proverb for sure but:
    Rômâre in ungetrûwelîche sluogen / sîn gebaine si ûf ain irmensûl begruoben[10]
    “The Romans slew him treacherously / and buried his bones on an Irminsul”
    The Irminsul is taken to be the World Tree and is also thought of as a holy or sacred German tree.

  15. Jerry

    This year is very very unormal in China. Now, we have to wear the shortest and thinest clothes. What shall we wear in summer which is really a big headache!


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