As Spring edges closer to Summer, all our trees are coming into glorious leaf. DID YOU NOTICE that spring leaves are lighter green in color and softer than the darker green leaves of mid summer? This is because the part of the leaves that contains the green pigment (called chlorophyll) is still developing. Pigment is what gives leaves their green colour and what gives us our skin colour. So pigment is like a stain or a tint. The less pigment the lighter the colour ie light green leaves or fair skin, the more pigment the darker the colour, dark green leaves or tanned skin.
Have a look at the leaves of four of our Irish trees that self seeded this spring. Ash is native to Ireland, while Beech , Scyamore and Horse Chestnut were brought into Ireland from Europe by Travellers many years ago and are now part of the Irish landscape.
- Have a go at drawing the shape of the leaves of each Tree in your Nature Journal and write the name beside it. You could also take a picture on your phone if you need back up. Check in your garden to see if you have any of these trees growing there. Then take a ramble up the road and see if you can spot any of the trees in your neighbors gardens or growing in the ditches. These trees are very common so it’s highly likely you will spot one of them.
2. When you find one, take a couple of leaves (ask the tree nicely if it’s ok!) and then bring them home and press them for your Nature Journal (place the leaves between 2 sheets of paper/newspaper and place a heavy book on top).
3. Before you leave the tree, have a scout around the base, and see if you can find any tree seedlings. Nature is very generous like that, and will often deposit a few seeds around the bottom of the tree. Bring it home and plant it in a pot straightaway so it doesn’t dry out. As you watch it grow, you can record all the changes in your Nature Journal, new leaves appearing, and then darkening; feel how soft they are; measure it as it gets taller, using parts of your body, your fingers, your hands, your arm. When it grows up, you can plant your very own tree, It doesn’t have to be in the garden. It could be somewhere special in nature.