Monday, February 8, 2010


It is snowing again, and I wonder when it will stop. I haven't experienced a winter like this for years. Last Friday, Alix told me that she was scared she would stay in when spring arrives. It is not as bad as in Berlin though, where a 10 cm crust of ice hasn't melt in 2 months. However I kind of like winter. Maybe not when it is raining, but on a crisp bright day the landscape is beautiful. Just go in a park and look at the trees. In my opinion, it is the best time of the year to identify them at a glance, or by looking at their buds and twigs, if you want to know the species. Playing 'spot the difference' with the children is a lot of fun. The London Plane (Platanus x acerifolia, syn. P. x hispanica, P. x hybrida) develops with age a wide-spreading outline with massive branches, and finer twigs that look like lace. Fruits - borne in 2's, sometimes 3's - are dangling from the branches. The bark looks like a camouflage fabric in soft shades of cream, olive and light brown. It is smoothly rough to the touch. Check out the specimen outside the Dorchester Hotel in W1, very dramatic when lit up at night. The tree is a cross between the American Plane (Platanus occidentalis) and the Oriental Plane (Platanus orientalis), which is a major feature to provide shade in Persian and other gardens of central and south Asia. I want to travel soon to both Isfahan and the Kashmiri valley to understand better the principles behind the gardens there.

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