There was a tragic moment, today, when I discovered an old friend, sadly brought down by age and infirmity.
I walked from Kings Cross Station to the RHS Headquarters at Vincent Square - howzzat for good, green behaviour??!! - but I digress. My favourite route is through Bloomsbury, past the British Museum, across Tragalgar Square and then a leafy interlude through the Whitehall end of Saint James's Park.
There's an ancient medlar tree that I've known and enjoyed there for nearly thirty years. It has been well cared-for, with the down-curving, gnarled limbs carefully supported by props, and with old or dying branches removed from time to time. In spring, the solitary blossoms are a joy and all summer, it creates a companionable, dark green hump when foliage covers the stooping boughs.
When I passed it today, however, I saw that much of the top growth has been removed, leaving a sadly disfigured wreck. Before, it was quaint; now it's ugly and sad. Whether gales or decay did this, I know not, but as a horticulturist, I suppose I should recommend its removal. The remains would be chopped down and the roots removed, perhaps to make room for a 'more interesting' tree. But it would break my heart if the Royal Parks did that. Let's hope they bolster up the poor old wreck, as long as it can produce a flower or two in spring and a little foliage in summer.
As usual, I'd forgotten to take my pocket camera to Town, so no picture of my languishing loved-one I'm afraid. The picture of the medlar fruit at the top is growing in Rosemoor and is a much more vigorous specimen. Not a pretty sight, though, and a compelling explanation of the disgustingly anatomical name given by more raunchy Victorians to this fruit which is inedible until rotten.