Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Wise Trees

Santo Domingo
 I arrived from Paris in Bayonne on the second day of May in cold, pouring rain.  I had a couple of hours to have a late lunch before the train to St. Jean Pier de Port departed and did manage to find a cafe under an arcade facing the town square where I could sketch.  This public space would be delightful in the heat of summer as it was defined by pollarded Plane trees and contained a fountain.

I anticipated seeing these trees all along the Camino and was looking forward to them sprouting out and forming leafy canopies to enjoy as the month progressed.  Wrong.  It was an unusually cool May and the wise old Plane trees knew it.  They were waiting for warmer weather and just starting to sprout a full month later when I arrived in Santiago de Compestella.

Pollarding is the practise of severely pruning branches back leaving only stubby, club-like structure.  Additionally, many of the plane trees were grafted to each other, so that when the leaves and branches do sprout out for the season they form a living trellis. Pollarding also prolongs the life of these trees, which also are exceptionally tolerant of air pollution, which is another reason they are so commonly planted in urban conditions.

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