A report from member Paddy Beynon on the Winter Tree Ident workshop.
We had a very interesting and enjoyable day at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens at the end of November. Head gardener Franziska Clifton took us through an intensive morning trying to identify a daunting number of twigs, some deciduous and some conifers.
We learnt to look for clues: the shape of buds and how they were arranged; opposite or alternate, pointed or blunt, flattened or rounded. We noted leaf scars and lenticels, the position and arrangement of catkins, the tricky points of differentiation between Leylandii and Thuja calocedrus and a foolproof way of distinguishing a Picea from an Abies by pulling a needle off. If the needle had a ‘peg’ of bark attached it was Picea, if the peg was absent it was Abies.
After a brief stop for lunch we headed out into the garden to identify some trees from a key. There was a watery sun, but it was bitterly cold, which precluded any dawdling, and made photo taking difficult with gloves on. Such temptation to dawdle at every turn. The trees looked beautiful against the winter sky and, best of all, everything was clearly labelled. Franziska was a mine of information and the day passed all too quickly.