The last job the tree surgeons did last week, after they had finished painstakingly taking down the rotten oak piece by piece, was to give the Holm Oak at the far end of the lawn an overhaul. It has grown substantially in the last few years and in a garden where light is at a premium its dense unforgiving canopy was stifling both the grass and the herbaceous borders below the summer house. These blokes’ skill is remarkable and it is pure theatre to watch, they worked together in an arboreal dance and I was captivated. I had explained what was in my head (scary I know) and they surpassed themselves in its execution – crown lifting, thinning, removing dead wood, primping and preening. The finished product not only ensures light can diffuse through the branches but it looks far better than it did before, almost oriental. One of the chaps told me it was a nice change to do something artistic rather than just felling trees and lopping overhanging branches. As you can see we now have a rather large pile of prunings for disposal. Something to keep me warm now I have stopped gawping at the tree surgeons.
This Holm or Holly Oak often catches people out as like its namesake it is evergreen, has spiny leaves on the lower branches becoming entire as you travel up the tree. It was introduced from the mediterranean in the 16th century and is not considered fully hardy, especially in the north of the UK. The wood is extremely hard and durable and the tree is tolerant of pollution, shade and salt making an ideal specimen for both city and coastal sites. There is however one obvious thing that gives its true identity away and that is it bears acorns. In Spain these small edible nuts feed the pigs whose fate it is to become Serrano ham – now there’s an idea!