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!

Friday, 6 March 2015


Town Bridge, Weymouth. Closed. With boats.

Last month when I introduced you to my new tree I showed you a little of the town where it stands - Weymouth in Dorset on the south coast of England. And several of you mentioned you'd be interested to know more about the wider context for this tree as well as the tree itself.

It's a bit difficult this - how to approach it; for in my my mind 'context' has tended to mean the absolutely immediate environs. But I now realise how insular this mind-set is. Many bloggers say quite a lot about the parts of the countries in which they live so regular readers already know whether they are talking about a big city or a wild and empty place, a hot and arid climate or freezing cold. All these things have an impact on whatever grows - including humans!

But on Loose and Leafy, it's only in the street plant posts that I show much of 'place' - and the 'place' for those posts could be in quite a range of towns so they don't help in the least when explaining my new tree. And because I was inspired by Janet at Plantaliscious to choose a tree near a coffeee shop I'm not in my usual hedgerow and wind-swept-pebbles context for these posts but standing in a well-tended park in Weymouth instead. So . . . .  As there is no way this tree would survive on Chesil Beach (!) and as it isn't growing in a hedgerow either I'd better say more about the town where it is growing. (Not that last year's tree was on a beach or in a hedgerow either. I can get a bit bogged down in this!)

I'll do this post in two parts. Town first. Tree second.

* * *
Now . . . unfortunately, and regretfully, I've had to sweep aside my original starting point. I chose my coffee shop. Brilliant. Good coffee. Pleasant location. So what's the problem? It was . . . it was near the bridge at the top of the post. It closed. Not just for winter or re-decoration. It's for sale. (The tree I'll now be following is on this side of the harbour.)

Here's another blow. The bridge should have opened up like Tower Bridge at four o'clock to let boats with masts go through. There weren't any. The bridge stayed shut. In the summer you can wait and wait and wait for ages while first the boats leaving the marina process through in single file; then the boats wanting to go in slowly pass in the other direction. For tourists that can be great fun and there's sometimes quite a festive atmosphere. If you are on the wrong side from the station and you are wanting to catch the next train it can be . . . can be . . . a bit frustrating!

Merry-go-Round in Alexandra Gardens, Weymouth, Closed.

But this is not the summer. There are few people around. The bridge stayed down. I didn't get my picture.

The merry-go-round is netted over. The music silent. The horses still.

Palms or ferns tied up for winter on Weymouth Promenade. (Esplanade)

It's altogether a netted-up and tied-up time of year. In some parks some small and delicate trees will be netted to protect them from winter cold. On the promenade most of the palms (or giants ferns? one of you is bound to know!) are tied round with ropes. I think this is to stop water getting in and rotting them through the winter . . . or to keep them warm . . . or to stop them thrashing around in the salty winds . . . again . . . one of you is bound to know!)

Digger digging donkey stop on Weymouth Beach.

Diggers on the beach are a familiar sight and emphasise the prospect of summer. They rearrange the sand to make courses for motorbike races. They put back the sand and pebbles to where they were before winter tides inconveniently reorganised them. In the major holiday season the beach is machine-combed every early morning to clear it of litter and make it pleasant and safe for holiday makers. This digger is working on the start/end point for donkey rides.

And here too there's netting in winter; the railing between the promenade and the beach is netted like the trees. Well, no, the nets which used to be there in winter got torn up. The boards which used to be there in winter got broken down. Here, there's a heavy blue plastic material instead. The idea is to stop sand being blown up from the beach and running round town. It's all very well crunching escaped beach under foot when you go shopping but to have a blast of it in your face and eyes can be very painful.


Tree flare in Nothe Gardens
Hm. I still haven't taken a picture of it as a whole. In part this is because it's my habit to look at things in parts. And in part it's because I have an awful habit of arriving in the evening when it simply won't show up well in the fading light.

It had been sunny when I arrived in town and when I hung around waiting for the bridge to go up. But when it didn't go up, instead of visiting the tree, I trotted off to take pictures of a summer resort in winter so by the time I'd re-crossed the bridge dull light was well established. (And I hadn't even had the bonus of a cup of coffee!)

Never mind. Here ( I mean just above) are its toes. (I mean, its flare.)

Bark on tree in Nothe Gardens Weymouth.

And its bark.

My last tree got me fixated on bark. Sometimes it seems that every deciduous tree in existence is a sycamore - but this isn't sycamore bark is it? (or is it?)

Lichens on tree in Nothe Gardens.
And the lichen! If only I knew about lichen! (Actually - if only I knew about anything it would help!) Never mind. Plough on regardless. The bright yellow sort is the only kind I'm able to recognise. It pops up quite a lot on Loose and Leafy; Common Orange Lichen - Xanthoria Parietina. It's very common round here - being a lichen that thrives in a nitrogen rich atmosphere. (By the sea that means gull-droppings. In other places it means traffic. In others farm chemicals.)

There are masses of grey kinds on this tree too.

Grey lichen on tree in Nothe Gardens

'Masses' may be an exaggeration but there are lots. Any chance anyone can name this large grey one? (Or even a little grey one?)

Silhouette of tree in Nothe Gardens

Whatever this tree turns out to be, it has wonderfully wibbly branches and twigs. Fairy-tale stuff!

Yup. That light is fading fast. But buds waiting to open show up well against the grey-ing sky so that's ok. And look at all those twists and twiddles.

My first post about this tree was in February 2015 - My New Tree .

I'm Following a Tree.
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Tree Following
on the Tree Following Page.
A link box for Tree Following Posts opens every 7th of the month and closes on the 14th.
It's never too late to join in!


amanda peters said...

The Town Bridge looks like a nice place to stand and watch the boats and I like the giant fern's (if that's what they are !)
I'm still no better at naming Lichens but the colours look stunning on your tree.
Amanda xx

Anonymous said...

A most enjoyable post and wonderful photos.
It'll be interesting to see just what kind of tree it is that you're following this year! Flighty xx

Anonymous said...

I love the photos--lichen is quite photogenic. I think my favorite is the one of the trunk, just up from the turf. That gold....

Caroline Gill said...

What a lovely area, Lucy, and great photos. There is something unique about the seaside out of season. The lichen and fungus are fascinating - and I know shamefully little about either. It seems a number of us have difficulty in these areas, perhaps particularly the lichens!

Caroline Gill said...

P.S. It was interesting to hear that our bird lists would tally so closely!

Hollis said...

That tree looks like a great choice. Looking forward to hearing what it is, how its life goes. And I like reading/seeing the context.

LensAndPen said...

I am looking forward to seeing what your whole tree looks like. I love seeing the surroundings and town around the tree. It sets the stage of what is to come. March is the last posting for my Magnolia tree as well. But if I can successfully find a new tree to start in April, I may post one last photo of the Magnolia in her full dress of beautiful pink blooms. I might have to pick a "city tree" as well. You have to drive a bit to get out into country surroundings around here.
Tree Watcher

Angie said...

Best laid plans and all that Lucy!
Is it just me or does that merry-go-round look rather eerie!
It would be difficult to ignore the bark and the lichen on your chosen 'whatever' tree and I can't blame you for concentrating on them. If only my tree had something just as interesting.
For what it's worth, I am enjoying seeing and reading about your little part of the world.

virtualhorizon said...

A wonderful post and a very enjoyable read. The lichens are just lovely (especially the yellow ones) as are the bark photos. I continue to be amazed how much one can learn from following a tree!

Cathy Thompson said...

Palms wrapped up for winter - other than that I'm no use. But would love to know about the small (and large) grey lichens. I have the Roger Philips book - will get it out tomorrow and revisit your post1

Amy Myers said...

Fascinating to see not only the tree, but also the surroundings... I love the wonderful twig textures on your tree!

Diana Studer said...

my carob tree has tiny flowers and I haven't seen any carob pods, so presume I have a male tree. Will get back to tree following as and when.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the tour Lucy and a tantalising look at your tree. p.s. I think the big one may be foliose lichen - searching brought up ?Parmelia sulcata.

Anonymous said...

Oh no, shame about the cafe! But looking forward to seeing more of your tree in future months.