Helsinki Trees

Monument in March

An old sea-buckthorn (Hippophaë rhamnoides) bending down over the rocks bordering the sea shore in Ursinin Kallio Park in Helsinki is surrounded by a fence and decorated with a sign stating that it is a protected nature monument – “rauhoitettu luonnonmuistomerkki” in Finnish, “fridlyst naturminnesmärke” in Swedish. “Puumainen tyrni” and “trädformig havtorn” would translate as tree-like or tree-shaped sea-buckthorn. It is protected, because it is unusually big and old, I assume. There is a smaller one only a few meters further west on the shore without any fence.

Because most of the trees I have spent time with this year, the pines on Skifferholmen as well as the pines on Örö are rather unremarkable, generally speaking, I felt it was about time to engage with a remarkable tree. And a tree designated as a monument is remarkable, isn’t it? Instead of trying to make direct physical contact, which would be easy, because the tree reaches beyond the fence, I decided to simply sit next to it and try to see what I could learn by observing it closely. I had in mind some exercises in perception described by Craig Holdrege in his book Thinking Like a Plant (2013). The aim is also to place myself inconspicuously next to the the tree in a manner that will not disturb (or be disturbed by) all the people walking along the shore. Moreover, I decided to write some “field notes” after each short session, and upload them on the RC together with the usual still images from the video, to form a diary of sorts.

The first thing I noticed were the strange buds covering the shrub all over, looking like weird bugs or outgrowths. They will probably become leaves only much later in spring, and remain like this during March, which is the month I plan to spend with the sea-buckthorn.

By Annette Arlander

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