Monday 3 August 2009

Trimming trees

In 2001 we shifted our old caravan into its current position and since then it has become completely engulfed by trees. A hazel has grown up right in front of the big window and birches overhang it on all sides. It is marvellously sheltered from all winds but at this time of year the trees are weighed down with foliage and after heavy rain branches drape wetly across paths. With the arrival of visitors imminent, yesterday, we realised that they might not appreciate a soaking every time they stepped out of the door, so we asked politely if the trees would mind shedding a bit of greenery, then set about trimming them with secateurs and loppers. It grieves me to cut living vegetation from trees; dead branches or even dormant wood in winter is far easier to prune.

Around the croft spaces are appearing under trees that have now grown high enough to form a canopy above head height. At first regenerating birches, willows and hazels form thickets of leafy twigs that occupy all the space they can, presumably to try to shade out all competition, but once they achieve sufficient height the birches at least seem to give up on lower branches, letting them go leafless and then be blown off in storms, so chambers of unoccupied space begin to appear and it becomes possible to walk among the young trees. This space seems to be offered by the trees to undergrowth and fungi and it feels welcoming to animals like us. I wonder if something similar is happening beneath the ground. Has a thicket of roots deepened, and are underground spaces opening out, similarly inviting to subterranean life?