Tuesday, November 20, 2012


This is the "pollarding season" in northern Spain. Sycamore trees, or plátanos in Spanish,
are being pruned in small towns and cities for the winter.  What a bizarre appearance these trees take on without their summer leaves and to be here to watch that transformation is visually fascinating. The top photo, pollarding by hand, is in La Guardia, Alava in the Basque Country. Contrast that with the mechanical production taking place on all sides of Parque Espolon in Logroño, La Rioja.

Before I left the States I read a book titled Roads to Santiago - A Modern Day Pilgrimage Through Spain by Cees Nooteboom. I decided to find it in the library here in Spanish and re-read the parts about the places we have visited recently. What he mentions about my town, Logroño, is directly about the sycamores and now I see exactly what he means -

"It was almost nightfall when I arrived at Huesca, a slate-colored sky hung over a park of tormented
  and misshapen sycamores, the strangest trees in winter. You see them everywhere, in Burgos,
  Logroño, San Sebastián, armies naked and unmoving, lined up as if for battle, marching into your
  dreams at night." (our translation)

For more information on pollarding trees go to http://joyofgardens.com/?p=556

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