Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
The oldest tree in my street is a linden – not surprising considering that we are in Berlin. Germans love their linden even though historically speaking, a linden tree is a symbol of the Sorbs – a Slavic people from Central Europe whose biggest community live in the region of Lausitz (Lusetia) south of Berlin.
The oldest tree in my street has seen a lot: planted in 1925, it lived through the days when the Prussian cavalry troops were still stationed in the barracks opposite my windows – their horses found every possible animal comfort in the elegant brick stables used as artists´ ateliers today. Needless to say, it is quite likely that they fail to provide the artists with the same sort of comfort that their equine predecessors enjoyed in the old days.
The linden tree also saw the army abandon the barracks – the site was converted into the “Kraftverkehrsamt” (Berlin traffic authority) in 1929. Unlike the majority of other trees along my street, it survived the Second World War and was not felled in the harsh winters of the late 1940s.
The tree right outside my window – the one I am looking at right now – has, however, a different story: a dendrological youngster, it was planted in 1975, which makes it more or less my own age (well, one of us is a bit older but we shan´t not delve into that). It is also a linden and by now has reached the height of 12 metres. Although looking at it, the number feels slightly underestimated, in fact. Its crown measures 5 metres in diameter and the trunk measures 89 centimetres in circumference.
Right now the tree´s branches are barren and look like pencil-sketched patterns against the steel winter sky but we are looking forward to the day when it bursts into its usual green again. And the next year is going to be a special one: in 2016 in Germany Linde will be the Tree of the Year.
If you want to find out more about the trees lining your street – what they are, how old they are, what their exact measurements are – visit the wonderful web page of the city of Berlin at http://goo.gl/NHH5ab. It´s magic:-)