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!

Thursday, 27 March 2014


If you've arrived from Kitchen Garden magazine - a special welcome.
If you'd like to know more about Tree Following - click here.

Cars parked either side of a low hedge.
Hospital car-park.  March 17th 2014
I've spent a lot of time in car-parks recently; waiting . . . waiting while the driver had a dental check-up . . . went into a garden centre . . . bought chips . . .

If it hadn't been raining, I would have taken the opportunity to scout around and look for wild plants in the borders and at the edge of the road . . . and pictures for my other blog, Message in a Milk Bottle. But it seems always to be raining. We had months of rain. Rain seemed to be a perpetual state. And now it's March . . . we're having April showers. There are sunny moments. But, well, whether it's raining or showering I don't like to take my camera outside.

There are special 'seeing' challenges in car-parks. They are not the kind of places people like to linger. They are boring. They are a bit dangerous. There's nothing there except cars . . . or . . . except . . .

Someone decided to put trees in squares cut through tarmac and the idea caught on. Trees (like blobs on sticks) are stuck in the ground in car-parks all over the land. If I'd thought of it, I would have put them bang in the middle of parking spaces so drivers could aim at them and stop just short. It might have made it easier to line up straight. But the fashion is to put them at the corners with the point of each square intruding into the space allocated for each car. This way they are neither trees nor targets but annoying bollards.

Then there are hedges. Hedges aren't universally present in car-parks but they are sometimes used to divide one section from another. (See picture at top of page.) In car-parking-hurrying-to-get-to-an-appointment mode - they are merely barriers. Fences would do just as well. But they are living plants. Once noticed they may not turn out to be very interesting . . . but they are there . . . and if we were to look closely (which we might if it weren't for the rain!) there is bound to be something to see.

Lampost and trees silhouetted against grey sky.
Hospital car-park.  March 17th 2014

But because of the rain I've been sitting in the car, front and back, and taking pictures through rain spattered windows instead of taking the camera outside; or opening a door and pointing my lens through the crack.

All of a sudden . . . there are trees!

Young tree seen through car door, silhouetted against dark and cloudy sky.
Garden Centre. Car-park March 25th 2014

Trees stuck in the middle of the garden centre car park. (While we're here . . . don't you think garden centres could make a little more of their land? I expect some do but I know three reasonably well and they might as well sell paint.)

Trees in the car-park outside the chip shop and the hardware store and the newsagent's and . . .. 

Tree with birds' nest seen through car windscreen.
Car-park for local shopping centre . . . small shops and doctor's surgery. March 25th 2014

This local shopping centre car-park-tree has a nest in it.

There's so much to see in a car-park, even without leaving the car! (And I suspect hardly anyone notices, we generally just rush by.)

Trees, one with catkins, seen through half open car door.
Car-park for superstore. March 25th 2014

Trees outside the superstore. See the catkins?

When summer comes, maybe we'll return and see what plants have sprung up around them.

Do you have un-noticed trees in squares in the car-parks near you?


Janet said...

It makes you wonder why pied wagtails like car parks. They seem such desolate places

Diana Studer said...

we had 3 blacksmith plovers pottering around in the carpark. Seen off by a rain squall, then back again when it cleared. I suppose they cannot find an open field in suburbia and must sadly make do with a carpark. And its trees.

colleen said...

It's always the birds I notice in the leafy edges. Apparently one of the best places in the south east to see waxwings in winter is the car park at ghastly Lakeside retail park.

elaine said...

I was watching a blackbird in the supermarket car park the other day - he seemed quite at home hopping through the shrubbery - his own mini-woodland.

Anonymous said...

Some of the really enormous shopping centres probably create themselves a nice little micro-climate. There must be so much excess air conditioning heat being pumped out around the buildings that it may be (I don't know for definite) a rather nice, warm place to roost. Eeven close to the ground - because there will be few land-borne predators cats, foxes, stoats, weasels, martens, etc.

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams said...

A+ for creativity...I only took photos of the steering wheels, and down the street when I wait.


Anonymous said...

You are SO observant! This puts tree following in a whole new light.
I feel so guilty now that I just read my Kindle if I'm stuck in a car park...
All the best :)

Crafty Green Poet said...

I don't drive so I spend very little time in carparks, though I did recently think that the golf course carpark which was the meeting place for a recent birdwatching walk i lead was a good place for observing the oystercatchers and curlews on the golfcourse and surrounding fields

Donna said...

I think there are loads of unnoticed trees in parking lots here...so sad really.

PlantPostings said...

I chuckled while I read this post. I'm imagining you careening your neck and camera this way and that to get good angles for photos out the windows of your car. Of course, too much rain isn't a laughing matter, but you've made the most of it. :) I do often think about the lovely decorative trees in the parking lots. Often they're too closely manicured for my taste, but some of them are quite lovely. I hope the rain will diminsh for you in the days ahead.