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I recently posted about my visit to the arboretum at Westonbirt in Gloucestershire and my love for trees so Flighty at flightplot kindly sent me a link to www.thetreeyear.wordpress.com. It is a blog to celebrate trees in this, 2011 The Year of the Tree, allowing people all over the world to blog about a tree or trees that are close to their heart. The idea is to pick a tree/s and study that tree throughout the year. To record how the tree changes through the seasons, what wildlife uses the tree, what plants grow around the tree, in fact anything that tells the story of a year in the life of that particular tree.

What an amazing idea. I love it. Anything that makes us take a closer look, to appreciate our natural environment is so worthwhile. Unfortunately, I have come to all this a little late in the year but I still wanted to contribute so I want to introduce you to my crab apple tree.

I don’t know what variety it is. The tree was already here when we bought the house. It is such a beautiful tree that gives me a lot of pleasure.

In Spring it is smothered in whitish-pink blossom that has a beautiful fresh scent. I will always stop to have a sniff – a smell that embodies Spring. As the blossom fades fresh green leaves unfurl. These zingy fresh leaves provide a perfect background to the Spring flowers bursting into life. Then, as Spring merges into Summer the tree has a quiet spell allowing other plants to steal the attention. Occasionally I will notice that little green fruits are beginning to swell, a taster of what is to come. As daylength shortens and temperatures start to drop, the fruit now the size of a small sweets, become streaked with red. Then, by the middle of autumn, the whole tree is covered in glowing red balls of tiny apples. This is how the tree looks now.

I’m not the only one to appreciate this tree. The birds love its myriad of branches, providing them with somewhere to perch, safely hidden from predators. The RSPB recommends crab apples not just because they provide valuable food for birds in winter but also because they are home to over 90 varieties of insects. Bees love the tree as well when it is in blossom, gorging on the nectar.

That’s all for now but I will post again between now and the end of the year with other stories and photos from my crab apple. Take a look at thetreeyear for more tree tales.