In Normandy the garden in front of our house is overshadowed by three huge cherry trees, but in stark contrast to the lush fecundity of more favoured areas, here in the far north-west Highlands of Scotland, trees of any size are a rarity and to be treasured. Most are stunted and bent by the harshness of the climate and the poverty of the soil, but in sheltered places some do manage to flourish.
One of those places is our front garden, where, protected from the worst of the weather by hills on three sides, we have not only a few small fruit trees and ornamental bushes but also a graceful silver birch. Though nowhere near the size of its cousins further south, its beauty draws the eye in all seasons and at all times of the day, especially in the evening as the sun sets behind the fretwork tracery of its branches.
To me trees are one of the essentials of nature and a world without trees a nightmare beyond imagining. Trees are the anchor of the landscape, linking past, present and future and I love them in all their wondrous variety of shape and type. Here is the scene I contemplated yesterday, as the last of the sunset afterglow drained from the sky and night fell over hill, tree and water.