The Wonder of Winter Trees

Whenever I look at trees in January, my memories take me back to the late 1950s, walking through the woods at Beeses Tea Gardens where my grandfather was the ferryman and my nana supplied the teas. I used to spend all day roaming among the trees, teaching myself all about sticky-buds once their conkers had disappeared (yes, you've guessed it, Horse Chestnut or Aesculus hippocastanum!), English Oak (Quercus robur) which still tries to hold on to its dead leaves, and common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) with its wonderfully smooth grey twigs and matt black buds.

Photo: Common ash buds
We have these same trees amazing us in Keynsham Memorial Park, so please go and find them and see how good they look at this time of year. To help you B&NES Council has a special map with locations of trees noted for their age, size or rare quality HERE and the list of trees can be found at the bottom of this page. 
Most deciduous trees have by now shed their old leaves making it less likely that strong winter winds will topple the whole tree; the Copper Beech trees (Fagus sylvatica 'Purpurea') dropped all their leaves within a week of the cold weather starting and the Maidenhair tree (Gingko biloba), which is related to conifers but looks like a deciduous tree, dropped the whole carpet of bright yellow leaves in one day in the autumn. Most of the beech mast (fruit) have been taken by the local squirrels, who seem to be having a good year! The shape of all these trees is definitely more obvious now.

The bark on the Silver Lime (Tilia tomentosa) and large-leaved lime (Tilia platyphyllos) both have bark with longitudinal ridges, although not as deeply-fissured as the white willow bark (Salix alba), pictured above.

We have some deciduous conifers in the park, the most obvious being the Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) which loses its twigs as well as its needles after turning red in the autumn
The Indian Bean Tree (Catalpa bignonioides), pictured, which is neither from India nor is a bean, is holding on to its long, bean-like pods until the spring.
The hazel (Corylus avellana) is busy producing its male and female catkins.
The Silver Birch (Betula pendula) looks amazing in the winter, as this is when the peeling grey-white bark is most obvious, especially when backed by a clear blue sky
The common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) is no longer showing its bright red berries, as the blackbirds have finished them off.

As you can see then, there is a surfeit of winter sights for you to appreciate at this time of year!

Liz Wintle

Keynsham Memorial Park Tree map
List of trees noted for their age, size or rare quality
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Avon Wildlife Trust
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