Tree of the Month - May

The mildest of our islands, such as Guernsey, provide fascinating insights into the kind of tree which many more of us might be able to grow in our gardens if the current disquieting shifts in weather patterns continue. It is also exciting to see how quick Guernsey gardeners have been to make the most of their warming climate: Araucaria heterophylla, a conifer endemic to Norfolk Island in the subropical south Pacific, from which it derives it's common name (though it's a kind of monkey puzzle, not a 'pine'), is an iconic feature as a planted tree in many warm temperate parts of the world but was effectively absent from Guernsey on my last visit in 2006. This spring, the improbably perfect spires of thriving young trees were poking up from gardens all across the island. The biggest I saw was this 14.5m tree at Earlswood House, Vale, on the windswept north-west coast.

Photo: Owen Johnson