It is large-scale, mechanical hedge-cutting season here in the Fens. The rule of thumb is to get it all done before the end of February, before the birds start nesting in earnest. Most of the time the results have the same effect as edging a lawn, it all looks tidy and sharp. Sometimes though the farmer has not used the right or sharp enough tool and the result is a mess.
So, in the spirit of wanting to enjoy and celebrate the beauty and variety of trees in our local hedgerows before they are cut (or mauled), I gathered a bunch of twigs to put in a vase when I was out walking the dog. The twigs really are diverse and colourful.
I laid them out on some black felt to show off the colours:
From left to right these twigs are from: Elder, lime, willow, oak, sycamore (and a second dark leaved maple), ash, dogwood, field maple, white poplar, alder. I left the prickly hawthorn and blackthorn alone!
The felt backdrop worked quite well as a contrast, except for the ash, with its unmistakable black bud scales. So I’ve taken a close-up of that to illustrate how beautifully knobbly and sculptural it is, particularly the termination on older branches.
Lime is a particular joy to pick, because the twigs are such a bright red. I use them at christmas too, when I hang baubles on them. At least, they are bright red on one side, on the sheltered, shaded side the tones are much greener:
I also love the way they zig-zag from one leaf axil to the next.
Perhaps the most surprising find was that the elder is so far advanced. Not only has there been massive bud-burst and first leaf showing, but the flowers are also well formed.
As a bonus, this display will last for ages. (My large christmas display has in fact rooted and really needs to be moved out of the house!)
I am joining with Cathy’s In a vase on Monday meme, where there is a celebration of green and some lovely imaginative spring vases.