Nature’s healing balm is welcoming us again

Clissold Park is perfect for rambling. Photo: KEN MEARS

Clissold Park is perfect for rambling. Photo: KEN MEARS - Credit: Archant

“The trees are coming into leaf”, wrote Philip Larkin.

More clues are granted at this time of year as to which tree variety stands before you: ash, elm or beech? As different fruits and leaves start to appear, the trees become less homogenous.

Clissold Park has long been a showground for different varieties of trees, providing leafy shade in the summer months when picnics begin to take place underneath their forgiving boughs. I’ve come here on a blustery March day, where the wind seems to whip right through layers of winter garments. In the Romani calendar, March is known as "month of the winds" or Bavalyakero. The music of the trees is changing from less of a creak to more of a rustle or a whisper.

Alice Bonifacio, environmental campaigner and nature writer

Alice Bonifacio visited Springfield Park to see the newly planted cherry trees - Credit: Alice Bonifacio

Meeting a friend for coffee, we sit on a picnic table underneath the budding branches of an ash, which according to my Woodland Trust app can be identified by clusters of flowers emerging from the tips of once stark twigs.

An impressive English elm stands in full glory close to one of the footpaths, boasting bright green leaves. Other trees follow suit. At this time of year, it is hard to ignore what came before. Last year, the arrival of spring brought a measure of relief during the first lockdown. Now nature’s healing balm is welcoming us again as we spend more time outdoors:

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“Last year is dead, they seem to say, Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.” From The Trees, by Philip Larkin.

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