Saturday, 20 August 2016

saplings or wingdings

While on our recent holiday in France, we noticed quite a few very majestic trees that ornamented the campsites and other grounds. Judging from the seed-pods, I thought they were perhaps vanilla but a friendly British couple told us that they believed they were Indian Bean Trees. We brought home the gossamer seeds from an old husk and set them aside for a few weeks. Meanwhile, I began noticing several cultivars, especially around Wiesbaden.
The plant is native to the American south—that sort of Indian, and with the taxonomical designation of Catalpa bignoniodes after the Muskogee and Cherokee for it, wing-headed for the distinctive shape of their big, heart-shaped leaves, which unusually secrete their own nectar. The wood of the tree was chiefly used for railroad ties, as it was solid and resistant to rotting. H did a bit of research, and after a patient few days (approximately a week before the first green shoots appeared, being kept in terrarium-like, hot-house conditions), we started to get a few seedlings, and then more and more. I know that one day, they’ll out-grow house and home but we’ll be sure that there’s a little grove of them in the future.