Sunday, 24 May 2009
The Elegant Indian
Having recently sung the praises of the English Horse Chestnut, I must put in a word for the Indian Horse Chestnut, which is beginning to come into flower (down south anyway), just as the conker tree candles fade into something more like burnt wicks. The Indian Horse Chestnut is, quite simply, a beautiful tree - shapely and pleasing to the eye, with leaves that are bronze-coloured when they first appear, then open into pendant green hands, the fingers glossier and smoother than the English Horse Chestnut, and elegantly tapered rather than spatulate. The flower spikes are splendid, tighter than the English version, with a pleasing pink tone to their whiteness (and dabs of surprising yellow). They don't last long - any more than the English candles do - but they're a fine sight while they're there. In fact, the only thing to be said against the Indian Horse Chestnut is that the 'conkers' are a disappointment, nothing like the glossy, neatly wrapped beauties that fall from our English trees. Also, the shade of the Indian tree doesn't have the peculiar dense and dappled beauty of our native version (yes I know, it's not actually native). Anyway, if you haven't noticed the Indian Horse Chestnut before, keep your eyes peeled - they're everywhere, in towns, cities and suburbs, and in country house gardens, and always worth an admiring look. And they're now nearing their best.