Presents are not the only things that need wrapping up before Christmas…No these trees are not modern art. They are a sign of winter. Because when the weather gets cold the trees wrap up. And there are a couple of reasons why…
Last week in Seoul the temperature suddenly dropped to minus 7, but happily it’s still toasty warm indoors with the underfloor heating ondol . Outside though, some of the trees can’t survive the cold very well on their own, so they get a little help from straw wrapped around their trunks and branches. (the straw is held in place with more straw or string). Here the trees outside Kyobo Bookshop are wrapped up and ready for winter.
Apparently almost 90% of the trees that line the streets in the city are gingko trees. (The trees outside our apartment are a mixture of gingko and cherry blossom trees) But gingko are hardy enough to get through the winter. Other trees such as persimmon can’t handle frost so well. Here at the National Museum of History the young bamboo trees have been wrapped up in straw.
The tops of these plant pots outside the National Museum of History have been covered with straw mats too.
But sometimes it’s not the whole tree that’s wrapped up. Sometimes it’s just a part of the tree that’s covered up as though to protect its modesty. Over at the Seoul Art Centre outside the Opera House these trees have been given loincloths! (see here for pictures of Seoul Art Centre in 4 seasons)
The reason why tree barks are partly wrapped up is to protect them from insects that are looking for a warm place to snuggle for the winter and lay their eggs. There are similar straw mats used on pine trees in Japan called komomaki The straw mats are taken off the trees in spring and burnt. So when the straw mats come off, that means it’s spring! 😉