One thing is for sure, and that is that I'm still obsessed with the Catalpa bignonioides tree growing in our back garden. Everything about it is fantastic. Its leaves, its long spooky pods and its entire form. I have always loved these Cigar Trees. There used to be a large specimen growing at the end of my road on Brick Lane. I loved that one too, but there is just something extra special about this one.
|Spooky beans of Catalpa bignonioides at night|
Like the 'Whomping Willow' in Harry Potter, or a wet dog on the beach, it is now shedding its massive leaves in one big shake. Scattered across the sunlit lawn they dry like poppadoms. A fan of the Indian snack, I later come along and gather them all up, study them, select the best leaves and paint those. Here's the latest:
|Inky Leaves studio|
|Close up on another one of my Catalpa bignonioides poppadom leaves|
Apparently, the name Catalpa derives from the Muscogee name for the tree, "kutuhlpa" meaning "winged head". Later on, between 1729 and 1732, the spellings "Catalpa" and "Catalpah" were used by Mark Catesby and then Carl Linnaeus published the tree's name as Bignonia catalpa in 1753. Giovanni Antonio Scopoli then later established the genus Catalpa in 1777. I wonder what represented the winged head on the tree?