Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Sycamores and Swallows

I have two Sycamore trees at my workshop site - one is a youngish tree, with a bent trunk, and the other is a huge old tree, mostly dead, the bare branches being a favourite perch for the Swallows.  This week they have both been throwing out the most beautiful buds and unfolding crumpled fresh leaves, along with pendulous, branched clusters of flowers.  I've watched them growing.

The Woodland Trust describe them as 'A tree of contradictory perceptions; once loved as a shade tree it now bears the scorn of some countryside organisations that see it as a 'weed' which needs to be removed'.

I know it for its great canopy, as wide as high, giving respite from the sun to sheep and cows at pasture with its huge spiked leaves, and what a climbing tree!  I tried to carve a piece of sycamore once, it was hard as oak.  However, the wood was commonly used for making toys or kitchen items as it is easily dyed and lacks a sticky resin which some other woods have.

Now at my workshop the younger is where I hang my bird feeders, and the ancient belongs to the Swallows, who I think a caught a glimpse of yesterday.  Birds swooping and circling high above, I couldn't make out if they were all Martins, or a group with Swallows joining in.  They normally make a very brief appearance like this, and a few days later come back to their perch.

Swallow - pencil sketch - © Jennifer Tetlow - Swallow Greetings Card


  1. What a beautiful drawing !
    There is a Sycamore tree a couple of houses down from me, and over the years i have found lots of little self seeded saplings all around my garden. It's amazing how far the seeds spread !

  2. That drawing is so wonderful, my hubby loves swallows, have you ever attempted a drawing of one in that amazing flight of theirs? I am dreaming of a tulip bud shaped sculpture for my new flowerbed....

  3. Oh, I love sycamores with their leaves bigger than dinner plates.

  4. I love your swallow and I have learned to appreciate the sycamore too - having trained in horticulture I once used to overlook it in favour of more ornamental species but I have learned my lesson, everything has its place - it is often we humans that get it wrong!!
    I live next door to an avenue of sycamores they are a delight through the seasons, if very noisy in the strong winds we get here!:)


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