Until July 2017, documenting the seasons of coastal Dorset. I'm a complete amateur so don't trust I'm always right. If ever you see I'm wrong - whether with identifications or in anything else - do say! Meanwhile . . . I've now moved to Halifax in West Yorkshire. Click on the link below to collect the new URL. Don't forget to follow there!

Monday, 29 April 2013


You may remember that as well as observing trees and bushes and plants in hedgerows and seeing what there is to see along the shore, I'm also interested in the trees and bushes and plants which grow and thrive in towns - and that one of them which fascinates me specially is the sycamore tree in a drain.

I first noticed it a year ago and wrote a post about it HERE.

Sycamore tree in a drain, April 16th 2012. Green leaves and green leaf bud on twig.
This is how the tree was on April 16th 2012.
Its leaves were already quite large.
To see what it was like in  May 2012 - Go to the post

You will see it was already reasonably tall and healthy so talking about its second spring is not quite accurate - more, it's the second spring I've noticed it.

This post is a catch up. We'll leap from May 2012 to August - then see what's happened since. 

Lots of leaves rammed together below the level of the road. August 8th 2012.
August 8th 2012

The tree grew so well, the space available to it became a little congested. At the top of the tree (which, I would guess, is about two feet high) leaves would rise above road level, only to be sheered off by the tyres of cars running over it. It isn't a busy street so leaves would have time to grow and poke up - but they never lasted. It wasn't an entirely healthy situation but . . . 

Tatty leaves in autumn colours on the tree in the drain. November 15th 2012.
November 15th 2012

. . . it survived - and in November 2012 this little tree hit Autumn.

Leaf buds on sycamore tree in drain. April 11th 2013.
April 11th 2013

Like its larger brothers, sisters and cousins, it stayed dormant over winter. I wondered if it would grow again - indeed, for a while I mourned it, certain it wouldn't but - here it is on April 11th 2013 - leaf buds beginning to turn green. (Compare with last April - at the top of the page!)

Sycamore leaves emerging from drain in road. If you peer you can see how they are growing larger underground too. April 23rd 2013.
April 23rd 2013

Towards the end of the month, the leaves are opening. Compared with last year, they are small - but the tree is older and taller so its leaves are emerging from the top of the drain sooner.

More leaves underground. More leaves emerging above ground. Some torn off or squashed.
April 26th 2013

Very soon, the leaves are growing fast. The drain is filling with greenery - but above ground - little hope of rising tall. Already the leaves at its crown are squashed and torn. (See bare stalks sticking up in the middle and the flattened leaf above them in the picture?)

Pretty amazing, no?

For the same tree April/May 2012
- click HERE.

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Mark Willis said...

Poor tree. It looks like a prisoner behind bars, aching to run free!

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Mark - agreed. Yet I also find it an inspiration and a sign of hope.

Anonymous said...

It does make one wonder how it survives down there.

ADRIAN said...

Get it listed Lucy. It is a magical tree and the philistines from the council will come along and suck it up.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hi, Toffeeapple. Although it gets drenched when it rains (with all the water from that side of the street running down into it) . . . when the weather is dry, the drain dries out too. A very resilient tree!

Hello Adrian. I'm so pleased to read your response to this 'magical' tree. As I think it's the council (is it?) that would be responsible for its listing, the very mention of it to them might be its death knell. Indeed, I imagine I should, as a responsible citizen, one day tell them about it myself. However, when people from the council came along and inspected the road (left white marks by drains and never came back - at least, I've not seen any changes) I would think they noticed it and decided to let it be for the present - which is what I'm doing.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Hi Lucy - nice to see you visiting my blog again after such a long time. Yes, sycamore trees are survivors - although I would think this one's days are numbered if the drain cleaner comes around. Have you thought of trying to transplant it - or would its roots be too deep ny now? It certainly will not have suffered from lack of water.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hi, Weaver of Grass. My absence was not by choice but because of problems with loading. Glad I tried again because it came up this time with no trouble. May be because I've changed my internet provider. (Or have you made changes at your end?) I was also glad to find you are still there and blogging. When I was last trying to visit, you were not too well - being air-lifted and things!

The tree - I imagine its roots run deep. I imagine I might mess up the drain if I tried to pull it out. And I wouldn't fit in the drain to get at its base!

Rajesh said...

Wonderful. If there is will then you there is way.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating, it's a real survivor that's for sure. Flighty xx

Carver said...

That is amazing. I love the tenacity of some plants and trees.

NatureFootstep said...

it´s amazing how plants can grow everywhere. :)

Dimple said...

If there is a little soil and water, seeds will sprout. If the tree is left undisturbed, it will make the drain its own. :)

EG CameraGirl said...

Fascinating how much this tree wants to survive.

Fun60 said...

I wonder how long before it is strong enough to lift the drain and make a run for it.

Photo Cache said...

incredible tenacity.

Karen said...

A wonderful and unusual post, won't be too long before that little tree blocks the drain.

Arija said...

Sycamores will grow anywhere even under unimaginable condition. They seed like crazy. I guess it is all Darwinian selection of survival of the fittest.

Al said...

Remarkable, I wonder how many years it can survive like that.

RURAL said...

Couldn't you get them to lift the drain, and save the little tree?

We could start a save the drain tree committee.

And yes I suppose the asparagus workers would get busy, I know that they say they get really stiff doing the picking.


Anonymous said...

The perseverance of nature is amazing!

Meghana Hassan said...

wow, u have been following it for quite a sometime....

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Rajesh - if only that were always true! Certainly though, this is an example of tenacity!

Hi, Flighty. An inspiration, isn't it?

Hello Carver. Agreed. Plants don't always grow where we want them too - and sometimes they can be a nuisance when they pop up in awkward places - but you can't other than admire them for their tenacity.

Hello Nature Footstep. I'm often bowled over by the way some plants can live where there appears to be very little in the way of nutrition or moisture. With some - succulents, say - you can imagine how they do it but with others, its surprising they don't spindle away.

Hi Dimple. It's doing a good job of making the drain its own!

Hello EG Camera - the will to survive is something humans and plants generally have in common.

Fun 60 - I'm delighted by your comment. I shall now watch out, ready to see the little sycamore breaking free and hurrying off down the street.

Hello Photo Cache. Pleased that you too are inspired by the sycamore's tenacity.

Thanks, Karen - and thanks too for becoming a follower.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Arija. You are right - sycamores have a lot of seeds and the seeds germinate easily. It's one of the reasons some people don't like them - but I do. . . They grow into tall, sturdy trees with beautifully shaped leaves that are wonderful to scrunch through in the autumn.

Hi Al. I wonder too. I think it must have been there at least a year before I noticed it. I imagine its location will be having a kind of bonsai effect. The question, really, may be how long it should be allowed to stay rather than how long it will be able to.

Hello Jen. I like the idea of a 'Save The Little Tree Committee'. Unfortunately, I doubt it's possible. I don't know what happens at the bottom of the drain but imagine it has its roots firmly stuck down there - and as Arija says, they are a common tree that few (at least, round here) will have an interest in saving. They are more likely to say 'Oh, one of them!'. (I still like the idea though.)

Hello LadyFi. We're fortunate that - that nature is tenacious. We'd have made a right (worse) mess of the world otherwise.

Hello, Meghana. You are right about following the tree for a while already. It's one of the things which makes it interesting. It's also something I would have been unlikely to do with such focus if it weren't for Loose and Leafy. It's one of the ways having a blog brings extra interest into one's life.

Karen said...

Now that's what I call a survivor!

Down by the sea said...

What a remarkable tree that despite all the set backs still manages to survive.
Sarah x

Pearl said...


Absolutely. :-) LOVE trees.


Donna said...

I love when nature breaks free of man-made bounds.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hi Karen. Indeed, this little tree is a survivor. I returned to it yesterday and even more leaves are poking out of the drain. None grow very high. I imagine it's feeling vigorous and productive so as fast at leaves are run over and squashed, it is sending up new ones. The advantage of being in a kerb is that few cars will go over it unless the drivers are wanting to park there and because it's on a corner they tend not to.

Hi Sarah - tough, tree, isn't it? If ever the council extracts it, I would like to be there to see how sturdy its trunk has grown.

Hi Pearl. Could do with lots of superlatives of astonishment!

Hello Donna - we tend to admire nature when it breaks our bounds as long as it doesn't do so in our own gardens!

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Everyone - I've just posted a very short post about the way backgrounds affect which plants we pay the most attention to when we're just walking along.