I thought I'd take a closer look at the silver birch tree that I've selected to follow for Tree Following this year.
The tree stands in North Merchiston Cemetery in Edinburgh. The whole cemetery is covered by a tree preservation order, which means that no trees can be removed without explicit permission from the council and can only be removed for health and safety reasons.
Silver birches are very familiar trees of rural and urban areas in the UK. They're very easy to identify at any time of the year as they have very distinctive white and black bark. They don't grow very tall but as they age, their trunks become more gnarled. You can find out more about silver birches on the Woodland trust website here.
Our silver birch is quite mature and has developed a gnarled trunk with a few fissures in it
A holly bush is growing right next to the tree
and there's what looks like the remains of some sort of fungus at the base of the trunk
In common with all trees in Edinburgh, our silver birch has a number
It also has a nest box that was recently attached by the council forestry officer (you can read about the day Friends of North Merchiston Cemetery put up bird boxes here). I look forward to seeing which species of bird will set up its home in this lovely nest box
If you look closely at the twigs, you can see the buds and last year's catkins.
Edited to add: I just found this interesting article on the Trees for Cities website about the benefits of trees.