by Jan Curry from The Round Hill Reporter March 2009
There is an ancient pear tree in this garden, reminding me that this is not just 'our garden' other people before us have dug and planted and hoped and others long after us will do the same. The tree was ancient when we first came here, fifty years ago and now it really is on its last legs (or trunk).
The trunk and twisted branches are gnarled and deeply pitted. Ladybirds and various insects creep into the cracks in an effort to shelter from the worst of the winter weather.
Trouble is a woodpecker, an infrequent visitor, arrived and probably ate them, as he flew away looking very satisfied. Life really is tough if you are an insect.
I often wonder why so few people seem to plant an apple or pear tree in their garden. Beautiful blossom, beloved by bees, fruit for picking, or just leaving for the birds and hedgehogs to scavenge in the autumn.
There are fruit trees to fit every size of garden and they need little attention in fact the couple I planted have been given no attention at all and they still flourish (especially the Bramley).
Another tree I would not want to be without is the Silver Birch.
This tree tolerates poor soil and grows tall quite quickly. The dainty, light green leaves seem to gleam and dance in the slightest breeze and do not block light from the shrubs growing beneath it.
It produces an abundance of pollen and seeds, in fact a birch is home to hundreds of insects enjoyed by birds. (Only the oak and willow support more.)
Two trees in this garden that have been much appreciated by the birds this winter, particularly during the icy, cold nights of February are a dense Yew and a leathery leafed Bay. I have seen blackbirds and ring doves huddled up close to the trunks, and a flock of sparrows roost in the Bay, protected (hopefully) from the wind chill, by the evergreen leaves.
It's not only birds and insects that need trees to survive, we do too. If your 'carbon footstep' is worrying you - plant a tree. I’ve read that 'a seventy foot tree releases enough oxygen to support ten people, every day ...'
Wow! That makes me feel just a bit more kindly towards the Sycamores, they seem to grow taller by the minute.
Happy gardening - it will soon be Spring.