Last week I came across an amazing blog, via Twitter. One of the big guys at Gollancz had tweeted about a blogger he admires, and fully expecting a fantasy type blog featuring swords and dragons and other things that don’t really float my boat (well, I do like dragons), I had a look. Wow! I was blown away by the blog called Loose and Leafy.

It actually comes from around Weymouth, which is where I lived for 27 years and I so wish I’d met the lady when I lived there – she sounds lovely. She’s a Tree Follower, and the idea is that you choose a particular tree and then follow it for a year. You take lots of photos (or draw or paint it, I guess, if you can) and blog about it whenever you feel so inspired. What a lovely, lovely idea! I bet many of my followers will join me in this – several of you whom I’ve got to know spring to mind immediately. If you follow this link and then go back to her Feb 5th post, she explains a bit more about it there.

So today is my first Tree Follower blog, and I’ll probably do one of these every couple of weeks or so. Although it could be more as I can see how exciting this could become, for me at least. The tree I’ve chosen is one that really chose me. As you may know, we moved house at the end of last year and finally bought our first house together. One of the three things that sold this house to me – and the most important one – was the beautiful garden. Not beautiful as in it’s perfect and full of wonderful plants, which it isn’t. But beautiful because it contains several mature trees and it’s reasonably private, considering we’re in Reading, and it’s full of birds and squirrels. I really, really love it.

I was just a tiny tad disappointed when we examined the garden closely to discover what the trees actually were. Horse chestnuts, lime, hornbeam and sycamore I think. Not entirely sure as all the leaves are now gone, but definitely horse chestnuts and sycamore and the other two are debatable as I don’t know them so well. I was disappointed because my favourite trees are the ones I grew up with in the two gardens of my childhood. These were, in the first garden: beech (all-time favourite), oak (with mistletoe), sweet chestnut, silver birches, Scots pines and rowans. The second garden had a giant yew (a real favourite of mine), a massive walnut tree (so big it had its main branch held up with a kind of pit-prop) and a large orchard. I spent hours and hours of my childhood playing, reading, daydreaming and scribbling under each of these trees, and I can still picture each of them perfectly even though it’s over 40 years since I saw any of them. It’s because of these trees that I grew up loving nature and believing in magic and eventually writing Stonewylde.

So when I realised that not one of these special trees featured in my new garden, I was a little disappointed but determined, nevertheless, to make friends with the new ones, all of which are subject to a Tree Preservation Order. Not of course that I’d consider chopping them down! Plus I have a veritable nursery of baby trees that I’ve been growing in pots for the past four years until such time as we could afford to buy a house. So I shall soon be planting some of these in the garden – and they include most of my old favourites.

The tree that has demanded to be chosen is the one nearest to the house – a massive horse chestnut. It’s a whopper and I really hope it doesn’t invalidate our house insurance. This has proved to be a bit of a long blog so I shall end now with a picture of a bit of it, and write more about it during the week. I’m on a real roll at the moment with Shaman of Stonewylde and I’m itching to get back to it. So here’s a detail of Horse Chestnut, with more to come soon. Have a lovely week, everyone!


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