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!

Sunday, 2 March 2014


Bumble bee (Buff tailed?) on hellebore flowers
Bumble Bee (Buff-Tailed Bumble Bee (Bombus (Bombus) terrestris?)
on Hellebore flowers in a garden centre.
I've been to a garden centre.
Garden centres aren't the usual haunt for posts on Loose and Leafy but it's often struck me some trees along an old railway line not far from where I live mark a border between the domestic and the wild. Perhaps I should trace their modern origins?
Some have their roots - literally - in gardens below the embankment. What seem to be bushes turn out to be the tops of quite hefty trees, with their trunks disappearing down through the undergrowth into a world of mown lawns and washing lines. There are what seem to be vestiges of cottage and station gardens too - like apple trees with crocosmia at the foot of one of them. And there are damsons which are good to pick and turn into jam as well as sloes.

So I went to the garden centre to visit their cousins.

Garden centres are prim places compared with the brambled acres and nettlebeds I usually feature in this blog; and much better regulated than the little street plants which feature in my urban posts. But they are handy if you want to examine a twig.

There's an apple tree whose windfalls I collect in the autumn - but its branches are high.

Apple tree bud (Spartan) in garden centre
Apple tree bud. (Spartan)

I can examine a garden centre apple bud close-to.

At this time of year it's hard to distinguish the rail-side damson trees from others crowded around them.

Damson (Merryweather) bud on young tree in garden centre
Damson (Merryweather)

But, at the garden centre, they are clearly labelled.

I've not come across pears growing wild. That doesn't stop me admiring them when I come across them standing close in a garden centre row.

Comice pear trees against a cloudless blue sky
Pears (Commice)

The top of one of the pear trees
close up
Sometime in the next few weeks, we are likely to be joined by readers of Kitchen Garden Magazine. Welcome if you are one of them! Would you like to join us in Following a Tree for a year (and beyond!). All you have to do is to pick a tree - whether in your garden or in the wild or in a public place like a road-side or a park - and keep an eye on it for a year; notice when its leaves break open, when it blossoms, what it looks like in summer . . . what plants grow at its feet . . . whether there are lichens on its trunk . . . insects in its bark . . . birds in its branches.

Tree Motif for Tree Following
I'm Following a Tree
You don't need to write anything down to follow a tree. It's all in the noticing. However, if you would like to share what you see why not think about starting a blog if you haven't one already? (If you'd appreciate a little help, do email. I can advise about setting up one like this (the format is supplied free by blogger)). Or you might like another kind - click on some of the links on the Tree Following page and be inspired! (Wordpress is popular too.)

Maybe you are on Twitter? Use #treefollowing.

On YouTube - document your tree there. If you are planting a new fruit tree in your garden - star in your own movie about digging the hole for its roots! (I recorded birds from below an elderberry tree I followed. (April 2012))

Or if you would like simply to send me a photo of your tree once in a while through the year, and maybe a paragraph about it, I'll see if I can find a space for it here on Loose and Leafy.

Bloggers - on Friday March 7th and on the 7th of every month from thenTree Following motif on your blog - please feel free to do so.
on, there'll be an opportunity to leave a link to your tree following posts on a linky box. (If you have not come across one before, don't worry, it's perfectly straightforward to use.) And if you'd like to use the

For more about tree following - and a growing list of tree followers - click HERE.


Anonymous said...

I've seen one bumble bee so far this year.
That's a good idea to look round the garden centre like that for close up views.
It good to see how many folks are doing the Tree following.
Flighty xx

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Lucy:

In no way do we wish to decry garden centres as such, but we cannot admit to their being our favourite places filled as they so often are with anything but plants. In our gardening days we would enjoy seeking out small, specialist nurseries, the owners of which would, or so we found, give readily of their expertise.

To study a tree throughout a year is a fun idea.

Diana Studer said...

Lucy, might you add to your Tree Following list - where people are? Going to read the Cornish one I found there ...

sue catmint said...

Some nurseries are wonderful, like the specialist Australian native nursery I visit when I have the time or need. I agree most may not be so inspiring, but have their uses. I love your close ups of the twigs. So much life and promise in a twig.

Caro (UrbanVegPatch) said...

I've heard that the neighbourhood I live in used to be an orchard and a few of the fruit trees remain, now in private back gardens. I've seen a pear tree in a nearby park, it's SO tall that none of the fruit can be reached, only collected when it falls to the ground, and usually it bit soft by then!

Amela Jones said...

Would you mind if I referenced this on my site? Doing a blog post about a similar topic and I think it would link well.

Northampton Garden centre