She is a statuesque beauty, tall for her 67 years, but with a very slight lean to one side – I blame the strong winds blasting inshore from the mighty Atlantic Ocean. Her name is Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides, to be precise) and her kind was thought to be extinct, having only been identified in fossils until some time between 1941 and 1944 when she was rediscovered, growing in the town of Moudao, in Hubei, in south-western China. Long ago, her family and her cousins, the sequoias, could be found right across Europe, in Asia and in the Americas but all were killed off during the last ice age.
My Dawn came from the first shipment of international seeds to arrive in Britain in 1949. She grows in Bute Park, in the Welsh capital of Cardiff. She was a champion tree, the tallest of her kind in Britain, in 2005, but she has since been surpassed. Still, she has a regal air and a wonderful pyramidal shape.
Dawn is deciduous, which is unusual for a conifer, but at the moment she is flowering, which has given her a rusty tinge – perhaps she’s blushing! In fact, she is monoecious, which means she has separate male and female flowers on the same tree. The male flowers hang in clusters at the end of her branches, while the female flowers are solitary. Over the next 12 months, I will be visiting Dawn often and will blog about her monthly.
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