How much greener life would be, were it not for Herr Kärcher, supplier of power washers to the universe! Moss would infest every concrete slab, grass seedlings would flourish in cracks, and algae would turn my beautiful silver Himalayan birch – betula jacquemontii – entirely green. It is time for the annual ceremony of cleaning the tree.
It’s a still, cold day, perfect for the hydraulic blasting away of all the algae and strips of loose bark to reveal the shining trunk beneath. At first, the colour is a milky tan, but exposure to the light will turn it glistening silver within weeks.
As usual, though, nothing is perfect. Something has been digging into the bark in a perfectly spaced series of little holes, to which the tree reacts by forming a black scab, thus upsetting the flawless silver, and upsetting me too.
I used to think the claws of grey squirrels were responsible (I’ll blame everything I can on those pests). But now I wonder if it isn’t a woodpecker doing a little investigation in the hope of a meal? If so, I trust it will go elsewhere. Anyway, the job is done, and the birch is clean for another year. As I wind up the hose and stow the washer, it starts to snow. I emerged from hibernation too early – that is clear.