Wooden Rain Posted on March 9, 2023

Cercidiphyllum japonicum pendulum

The front of this house is screened from the street by something remarkably like wooden rain, falling into and around the purple flowers just emerging on our magnolia. The rain is the cascading branches of the extraordinary weeping Cercidiphyllum japonicum, growing just on our neighbour’s side of a central camellia hedge. The two, the cercidiphyllum and the magnolia, flower in unison and in contrast: the former (Katsura in Japan, where it is the largest native tree) with tiny pale fringe-like flowers preceding its delicate heart-shaped leaves.

Soaring above them both, as high as the house, is the Council’s double flowered gean, England’s wild cherry in its showiest form. No signs of spring here; just the naked scaffold of disordered grey branches, four of them trunk-like but without a trunk’s conviction, knobbly flower-buds apparently not yet feeling any urge to open. There is a Caucasian maple in the nextdoor front garden, too, another tree left unsupervised to grow errant competing branches and end up a winter eye-sore. The katsura thankfully makes up for it.

Nobody can explain why this street is a sort of linear arboretum with scarcely two trees the same, and three or four decidedly rare. Who do I thank for four seasons of enduring intrigue?

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