Our new house is entirely surrounded by trees. We haven’t seen it in summer yet, but as spring arrives I am starting to realise that the delicate curtains of twigs and branches have only one meaning: leaves will blot out any sight of the London around us.
It certainly wasn’t my intention, tree-crazy as I am. Most trees are best seen at a little distance, not in your face. Our front yard is completely filled and canopied over by a pink Magnolia soulangeana, just now in full flower and, between you and me, really rather flashy. The neighbour’s is
similarly full of a weeping Japanese cherry. In the street outside stands one of a row of extremely vigorous native cherries (an odd choice, surely, for a street tree). The houses opposite will disappear for seven or eight months of the year.
At the back one neighbour to our 18-foot-wide garden has a flourishing walnut, the other a tall bay tree, and we boast a magnificent specimen of that bane of London gardeners, a sycamore, reputedly a hundred years old and definitely a fixture. Its wonderfully scaly trunk is six or seven feet round and the branches, not improved in elegance by constant lopping, blot out the next houses and what’s left of the sky.
So it’s gardening in the shade. Margery Fish, here I come.