Judas Tree

aphrodite-and-judas-tree-168MagnoliasWithin the ‘pleasure grounds’ of the Global Retreat Centre (Nuneham House) there are, astonishingly, almost one hundred different species of trees. Mighty oaks and towering London planes are perhaps the most obvious of these. At the right time, you can appreciate the smaller trees as well: the golden rain of the Laburnums, the pink or white candelabras of the Magnolias or the remarkable icing-clad layering of the Wedding Cake Tree. However, if you visit in late April or early May, (mid to late May, this year) one of the most stunning small trees in the garden is Cercis siliquastrum or Judas tree. Like some of the Magnolias nearby, the Judas tree flowers before its leaves tentatively emerge from their winter slumbers, so enhancing the beauty of the bright pink, almost purple clusters of flowers. These are curious in that they burst from the joints of the, as yet, leafless branches and occasionally stems. Seen up close, the blooms identify this as leguminous; that is related to peas and beans.

JudasWhile of eastern Mediterranean origin, it has been cultivated in the UK for about 400 years. It is, however, not a common sight. This may have something to do with its biblical associations for legend tells us that this was the tree from which Judas Iscariot hanged himself following the betrayal of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemanay. Wherever there is sorrow there has to be a balancing experience of happiness. I wonder if this accounts for the distinctive shape of the leaves: a perfect heart!


About the Author


who has a background in Agricultural Research has been based at the Global Retreat Centre since its inception in 1993. As well as managing the 55 acrres of garden he also plays a key role in building management. Alongside this, Doug runs Values Development, Positive Thinking and Enlightened Leadership seminars for professional and community groups around the UK and abroad. Since 1996 he has, in particular, been involved in the university’s outreach work in prisons, running courses for prisoners and contributing to seminars and educational programmes for Prison Service personnel.

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