Monday, 11 February 2013

In praise of urban trees

What would we do without all the trees in our towns and cities? They provide us with shade in summer, filter the air we breathe, provide nesting and feeding places for birds and other wildlife and bring us a bit closer to nature in urban environments. Deciduous trees are covered with leaves from spring to autumn and the structure is hidden from our view, but to really appreciate their beauty now is the time to look out for them, to see their beautiful shapes, colour of bark and structure of their branches.

In the last couple of weeks I photographed urban trees in Reading to reveal their beauty. Many of the trees in the pictures below grow on the Reading University campus which has beautiful old trees, well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Sunrise at Forbury Gardens, Reading
Trees in Forbury Gardens in the center of Reading
An old oak near the Whiteknights Lake
An old cedar tree on the University campus
Cedar tree in the morning sunlight
In winter trees reveal their beautiful structure
A glorious old oak in Harris Garden on the University campus
A still life
Eucalyptus tree in Harris Garden, Reading University campus
Sunrise over Whiteknights Lake

One tree to look out for if you are after early flowers is cornelian cherry (Cornus mas). It has clusters of bright yellow  flowers which open from February to March. The flowers are a good food source for early bees. The red, (purple when ripe) cherry-like fruit are edible and are a bit tart to begin with but turn increasingly sweet and juicy when fully ripe. Look out for the trees in hedges, along roadside verges, in parks and gardens.

Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas), one of the earliest trees flowering

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