I took these photos of the garden last spring and summer. Centre-stage is the magnificent copper beech, which has dominated the spot for years and years, providing homes and recreation for generations of garden birds and squirrels. It’s the very first thing we see as we glance out of the kitchen window, a statuesque barometer to the changing seasons: from bare winter branches, though to tightly furled budding springtime leaves, to the vibrant coppery russet leaves of high summer, and the burnished and tawny tones of those same leaves as they dry and fall in the Autumn .
I took this photo yesterday morning.
Our copper beech has gone.
On Friday night, the house became surrounded by an eerie moaning, and then a rushing sound that became ever louder as the wind, gathering speed, surged helter-skelter alongside the house. Thin wiry branches of wisteria and ivy scrabbled urgently at the window panes. The wind clattered down the chimney, coughing clods of oily soot from a long-extinguished fire into the hearth. It was a noisy night. So noisy that despite all the disturbance, none of us heard the moment when the mighty copper beech lost a battle and fell to the ground.
In the morning, the kitchen was unaccountably light for such a gloomy day. We could see the sky where once our copper beech had stood. I rushed down into the garden. The tree could have lunged towards the house, at best breaking several windows. It could have tumbled into the walled garden, taking with it the lovely brick wall up which clematis and old-fashioned roses scramble throughout the summer. It could have crashed into the pond, shattering the ornamental statue in its centre, and unsettling rather a lot of fish and toads. It did none of those. Instead, it fell gracefully to the back of the lawn, avoiding other trees, and several flower beds. It stacked itself up neatly, just waiting for the next stage in its long career. Once it’s seasoned, our landlords, and their son and family will have enough fuel to keep their wood-burning stoves burning brightly for several winters to come. Is that a fitting end to its long life? I don’t know. But it certainly means that it will go on being appreciated for many years.