On my last visit to the Botanic Garden in Oxford, the monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) caught my eye, with its strange spiky branches.
Resin was seeping from its bark.
Especially the dead one on the ground gave the impression of a branched snake covered with dragon scales.
It was the strangest of sights yesterday. From daybreak onwards, the clouds had an orange hue to them. As if a thunderstorm was continuously looming. Around midday, the sun was briefly visible and it was as red as you would expect it to be around sunset.
Apparently, the orange sky had to do with hurricane Ophelia raging over Ireland. In England, we had certainly no hurricane-like storm, but it was quite windy.
According to the BBC, dust particles in the air cause blue light to scatter, leaving longer-wavelength red light to shine through. The dust travelled a long way before it reached the West Midlands: it was brought in from the Sahara and the forest fires sweeping over Portugal and Northwest Spain.
Around 3 pm the clouds broke and the orange tint disappeared. But it returned in the clouds around sunset.
My first visit to Blenheim Palace was on a foggy winter day. Its grandeur was veiled. So I had to come back.
I returned on a typical English summer day with sun, clouds and the occasional shower.
Spot the differences…
You can find this little lane sheltered by old lindens in Vaassen (The Netherlands). It’s called ‘Kersendijkje’, Cherry dyke. (No idea though where that name came from. You won’t find any cherry trees along this dyke). The lane is right next to Cannenburgh Castle. I was told many teenagers in this village share their first kiss under these trees. It does make sense: the lane is totally sheltered from spying eyes. I just love the way the trees are leaning.
Last week, I spotted a tree with white, tulip-like flowers in the Botanic Garden in Oxford. This weekend I discovered they have a true tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) as well. The name doesn’t give it away, but it belongs to the magnolia family.
The pale green buds and the flowers, light green with a bit of orange, are not always easy to spot between the leaves.
White tulip-like flowers sheltered by large green leaves. What type of tree is this?, I wondered. I had once seen a tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) and this one evidently a different type of tree.
After a while, I spotted the sign: Magnolia sieboldii subsp. sinensis. Chinese magnolia in common English.
One interesting detail: the tulip tree belongs to the magnolia family as well.
Last week, in the Oxford Botanical Garden I came across a tree that seemed to be surrounded by used white handkerchiefs or tissues. Looking up, I found that the little white sheets had actually fallen from the tree.
A sign by the tree identified it as a Davidia involucrata. It originates from China and is commonly known as handkerchief tree, dove tree and ghost tree.
It is a lovely sight, to see the bracts fluttering in the wind like white doves or pinched handkerchiefs.
Some unfolding leaves this time. I love the sight of them.
As for the type of leaves: I think they’re sycamore, but I’m not sure there.
A single pine tree in a sea of heather creates a strong contrast. It’s a great sight, even in spring, when the shrubs are not in their prime.
Heather fields, little lakes, forest, and blue skies: great ingredients for a hike around the Renderklippen, a nature reserve in the Netherlands.
Trees with young leaves display a range of colours.
The magnolia has been my favourite flowering tree since childhood. Last weekend I visited the Botanic Garden in Oxford for the first time and was lucky enough to catch the magnolia while the sun was shining.
The Prunus trees in front of our house and along the river Thames are in full bloom this week.