16 JANUARY 1948, Page 18

Literary Fashion in Trees It is interesting to mark how

the literary fashion in trees has varied at different dates in different countries. Cedar and fir prevail in the Bible. In much early English verse the ivy (which incidentally burns well) is continually commended and even treated as a tree comparable with oak and ash. Today it is more usually condemned out of hand as a harmful parasite, which it is not. It grows from its own grounded roots, like other trees. Modern poets show a strong preference for the birch, which a popular artist called the Monarch of the Glen, and the cherry, even before Housman wrote the very best, and much the most popular, of his lyrics in its honour. However the essential virtue of a tree is in its form rather than its flower. Most are perhaps lovelier, certainly more shapely, in winter than in summer.