Friday, 18 July 2008, 19:30.
Every tree in Berlin on public land has a number. I assume it must reach a certain size to earn a number, and that in addition to the number, it has a record in the Grünfläche Amt (Green Spaces Office) that is updated, and that it receives care, pruning, checkups in an orderly and documented fashion. Whether only planted trees are accepted and acknowledged in this system, or whether a rogue Alianthus can also acquire legal status, I do not know. Also, what about bushes and schrubs? Roses? Other plantings? Grass?
I was surprised to see that the two clusters of trees among the forsythia bushes flanking the gravel walk from subway station to my front door have also been numbered and even have sub-numbers. In the shadows, they are difficult to photograph. So I documented one of the many trees lining the outer edge of the street, between parking spots and historic lamps.
When I got the prints back from the photo lab, I saw that the little metal tag had glowed so strongly in the setting sun that the number was unreadable. But I kept the picture anyway – it is a picture of a moment in the process. There will be many other opportunities to make a clear photo of one of these tags, of which there are thousands in Berlin.