I’ve been walking in the centre of Grenoble and on the university campus for a lot of this week, looking at the trees and how they are living. The campus is huge and the trees there are generally given a lot of space and planted in grassy areas (though still often quite isolated – one or two outside each building). There’s also a lovely arboretum.
The city centre is quite different – there are a lot of trees, but many of them are very contained, either within high-sided beds or railings (sometimes) or in the case of young trees, lots of protective sheathing and fencing. It’s quite hard to get near some of them – I’m used to being able to touch trees, which is one of the ways I greet and get to know them, and it’s not always easy here. The trees are also very often completely blocked in by parked cars (in car parks), street infrastructure etc. And they’re quite often used in what seems to me a possibly harming (or at least uncaring) way e.g. to hang cables from (or even, as in the image, to mount this box – CCTV? lighting? on a horse chestnut in the main square in the centre.
I’m working on identifying which species are planted (which is harder because it’s winter). I know some, but am hoping to get help from the municipality with information on what is planted. I’m planning to work on a kind of experiential mapping of the ones I visit.