Falling in love with Linden

I’m astounded by how much difference the burgeoning green and sunshine in Berlin make to my mood.  I’m almost sure that Spring is my favourite season, watching leaves unfurl day by day is freshly magical every year.

When I’m at home I love to watch the willow colour up outside my bedroom window, it has a wonderful gold haze over it which fades away as the leaves mature.  Here in Berlin I found these two beautiful specimens in Volkspark Friedrichshain at just the right moment to catch a little of the effect on camera.

There is a haiku by Oshima Ryota which illustrates quite perfectly how very soothing these trees can be (and not just in aspirin!)

bad-tempered I got back

then in the garden

the willow-tree

Here though it’s the Linden trees  which lead the parade of green through the city.  I started noticing a fuzz of acid green, which swiftly developed into pompom-like clusters.  Other trees were still bare and brown but these popped beautifully against the grey skies we’ve been having intermittently and positively shouted in glee when bathed in sunshine.  Initially I didn’t know what they were but luckily Sonja was able to name them for me. I’m still not sure what species is predominant here though as linden trees are more commonly known as limes in England and the churchyard in Fingest is flanked by tall and elegant limes, but they don’t look quite the same as these or I’d have recognised them straight away.

Sonja also pointed out that the famous street ‘Unter den Linden’ was named for the avenue of trees that helped to make it one of the most beautiful boulevards in Europe, which somehow I hadn’t stopped to think about before.  Of course the mature trees were lost in the war, but there are new trees doing well.  In fact that are a lot of relatively new plantings all across town, and it really does add to the friendly vibe for me.

Of course I’ve already mentioned the cherry trees, which are perfectly lovely, but they do have rivals.  There are some spectacular clusters of magnolias here too.  Last weekend I spent a couple of hours reading in this glade, surrounded by bees and heavy perfume.  The trees are on a smallish patch of green in front of a tower block and I found them when I went to cheer for Amanda and Severin in the half marathon.  They’re all magnolia stellata so they have these delightfully, almost decadently languid petals of the purest white.  Sitting under a blue sky filled with scented stars and soaking up the sun I realised that as the days get longer and the plants come to life, I do too.  It’s as close to spiritual as I get and I can completely understand why so many cultures revere particular trees or plants.

I’ll stop now, although I could probably go on all day, but I’ll just say that if you feel at all the same as I do, you should read The Secret Life of Trees by Colin Tudge. It’s fascinating and revelatory as all the best books should be and as far as I’m concerned everyone should read it.


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