Sketched from life Posted on February 24, 2010

It was a regular customer who suggested I should change my nom de terre to Treedescant. You’re always writing about them, she said.

Touché. But it’s largely a winter habit. At this time of year they are the only thing in the garden to look at – and this is the time when you really can see them; they’re not all covered with leaves. It is the intricacy of their frameworks that I love to see, and the intimacy of their just-swelling buds. The comparison with people, with and without clothes, did occur to me – but you never know where these things will lead.

Certainly there’s nothing outside the window so well worth study as the Siberian crab that rises like a wind-blown fountain a hundred yards down the drive. Its jet black silhouette perfectly expresses its experiences over 60 years or so; the constant shove of the west wind inclining it to the east, the perennial effort to find more light for its leaves ……

An artist who could draw such a telling design would be rightly celebrated. Every tree out there is a drawing of an autobiography, expressed in a different medium and a different style. Call me Treedescant if you like.

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The International Dendrology Society (IDS)