I’ve just come back from Edinburgh, where I lived for around 20 years, and found I’d forgotten the beauty of streets without trees.
Don’t get me wrong, I love trees, and get solace from walking in forests and made an argument for more mature, densely planted street trees in my last blog. But sometimes, some cities feel stronger where the architecture just speaks for itself. I suspect this is a northern thing*, where trees might find it harder to establish and flourish and there isn’t the same need for shade. The naked vertical architecture can have the same soaring effect as an avenue of street trees in a southern city.
Edinburgh isn’t a city without trees, it has trees in city squares and gardens and parks, but it certainly has fewer street trees than London. The grand New Town streets and crescents, as well as the old town alleys and roads don’t feel less because they don’t have public trees in the pavements. Indeed, in some places where the city council has planted trees in streets where trees weren’t found originally, the trees look strangely out of place and oddly uncomfortable.
* But then Italy’s Venice isn’t exactly packed with public trees, but it’s not short of beauty.