As we move around the village, we cannot fail to notice how well-blessed we are in Tarvin for street trees. There are many old and venerable hedgerow trees, there are the Red Hawthorns on the High Street (and elsewhere), we have a number of lovely field maples, some gorgeous blossom trees, a splendid Copper Beech at Austins Hill and a great many young saplings, planted by our very-own tree warden, Peter Maiden. There is even a fruiting apple tree! We are also exceedingly fortunate to have several wonderful examples of the European Lime tree (also known as the Linden Tree) and it is one of these trees that I think is worthy of the title, “Tarvin’s Best Street Tree”.
This tree is situated in the broad green verge outside No 16, Hallfields Road, CH3 8LL. As you can see from the photograph, it is truly magnificent and, during its flowering period (in June or July most years) it also produces the most magnificent and truly heady scent. May I suggest that you make a detour along the top part of Hallfields Road, so that you can have a look at it?
European Lime or Linden Tree
(Tilia x europaea)
This tree, the common lime tree of Britain, is a hybrid between the small-leaved lime and large-leaved lime and has distinct characteristics of both species. The bark is pale grey-brown and irregularly ridged, with characteristic large burrs and leaf shoots at the base of the tree. The twigs are slender and brown, although they can become red in the sun. The dark green, heart-shaped leaves are lopsided, lobed at the base and are more or less hairless, except for creamy-buff or white hairs on the underside of the leaf between the joints of the veins. In autumn, the leaves fade to a dull yellow before they fall.
The tree’s sturdy trunk stands like a pillar and the branches divide and subdivide into numerous smaller branchlets, on which the twigs are fine and thick. In summer, these are profusely clothed with the large leaves and the result is the magnificently dense head of abundant foliage. The heart-shaped leaves are almost all asymmetrical – the curve is different on the two sides (something you don’t notice unless you look closely). The flowers form in abundance but attention is often drawn to them only by their scent, because the flowers themselves are not huge. They do serve to draw in a host of nectar-seeking insects, which then accomplish the pollination. After pollination, the fruits develop. Each tiny, pea-like fruit hangs attached to a greenish-yellow, ribbon-like structure, resembling a leaf. Strictly, this is a bract and its whole purpose is to act as a wing to enable the wind to catch the ripened seed clusters and carry them just a little beyond the parent tree.
There is a ‘down-side’ to living with a Lime tree. Aphids are attracted to the tree by the rich supply of sap, and these are in turn often "farmed" by ants, although this "farming" process does not appear to cause any serious damage to the trees. The ants care for and nurture the aphids in exchange for the aphids being ‘milked’ for the production of the sap – a syrup-like honeydew – which the ants collect for their own use. The result can often be a dripping of excess sap onto the lower branches and leaves – and anything else which happens to be below. Cars left under Lime trees can quickly become coated with a film of the sticky, syrupy honeydew dropped from higher up!
So, there is my nomination for “Tarvin’s Best Street Tree”. Do you have any other nominations? If so, we can organise a proper competition. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll organise another article on YOUR tree, so that the Tarvin community can compare them and decide. However, if no other nominations appear, then I will consider the Lime tree to be duly crowned. Even if you don’t nominate any other tree, do come and look at this Hallfields Road Lime Tree. It is truly magnificent.