Festival of the Trees #30

This issue of Festival of the Trees comes after a month of autumn color in parts of the northern hemisphere and at the beginning of a month of snow and thoughts of Christmas trees, whether you celebrate it or not. There seems to be something about this time of year that prompts reflection, and we begin with some of those.


Wordless WednesdayOne picks up a very nice sense of place when browsing through Carolyn Hoffman’s blog, Roundtop Ruminations. The autumn of 2008 brought a series of images, from full fall color through the final leaf drop and frost. Her post on the sense of ancient history one gets from trees goes well beyond the nature of a single season. As she says, trees “… are a living link back into the dimmest days of the pre-history of our planet. ”

While Carolyn’s meditation led me to thinking about deep earth history, Dave Bonta of Via Negativa gave us a poem/meditation on Yggdrasil, the tree at the center of the cosmos.

Of course, one should never presume to summarize a poem beyond what the title tells you, but I couldn’t help thinking about the ents in Lord of the Rings when I read Dick Jones‘s The Green Man (sorry, Dick). The colors of Autumn Leaves inspired Juliet Wilson, the Crafty Green Poet, whereas the falling of the leaves caught Keith G. Tidball‘s attention in Soft Confetti. Go read these tree celebratory ones for yourself – they’re all worth it.

Shadows-And-LightI also liked very much the way Steve, of Fox Haven Journal, reflected on how trees can inspire us and teach us of change.

If the ents were awesome, think about the tree in the book Wizard of Oz that … well, see what it did and why Leslee of 3rd House Journal went Bwaahhhhhh! when looking at a particular tree at the Arnold Arboretum.

Paving StonesWhen GrrlScientist of Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted) was having a rough personal time, she took a photo-journey through the Anne Loftus playground in New York City. (Photo at left by Grrl Scientist.) The images and the virtual tour of this playground, which is within the 67-acre Fort Tryon Park in Inwood, Manhattan, offer us a lifting of the spirits, which surely GrrlScientist experienced as well. The playground, GrrlScientist says, was named in honor of Anne Loftus (1925-1989), a businesswoman and a neighborhood administrator, and the park was named for Sir William Tryon, who was a Major General and the last British governor of colonial New York.

In The Genius Of Frank Lloyd Wright Shines Through On An Autumn Afternoon we learn how Wright designed not only a house but the planting of pin oak trees around it. Anthony McCune gives us a photo tour of the place, showing why pin oaks were the perfect tree choice for the house.

Natural history

Trees certainly do not live in a vacuum, alone among their kind. We had a few posts on the animals, including insects, that use or otherwise enjoy trees as well as a few posts devoted to the natural history of trees.

Carpenter Ants-1If carpenter ants had their own blog festival, they might very well name it Festival of the Trees, in appreciation for their lovely home sites. Seabrooke Leckie of The Marvelous in Nature found one of those home sites in Hidden in the Wood. Don’t be surprised if, after reading this, you find yourself scrounging for dead wood to try to see “…the surfaces of the tunnels … worn smooth from thousands of tiny little feet.”

And then Seabrooke went on to celebrate her 200th post, The living trees, by offering a beautifully written homage to a large American Beech tree that may, given luck, live to be 200 years old.
Pyrenean Oak GallDan Anderson of Exploring the World of Trees has a neat post with plenty of images on the “apple” galls of the Pyrenean Oak.

While browsing through Dan’s site, another post caught my eye and perhaps you will find it of interest as well: Christmas trees in Europe covers three firs, two spruces, and a pine.

Ash of Treeblog delves into mimicry of the peppered moth [treeblog’s cleft-headed looper (Biston betularia) – larva of the peppered moth], both when it is a caterpillar and when, famously in biology circles, it is an adult moth.

Ignorant as I have been about porcupines, I did not know they ate trees. Dave Bonta of Via Negativa has proof – a video of one eating in and on an ornamental cherry tree (Porcupine in a Tree).

Specific trees

In the part of the country where I grew up, playing with horse chestnuts was a greatly anticipated part of our life every fall. It was great, then, to see a post by DN Lee on Osage Orange Trees with good photos of the large and unusual fruit.

I had not heard of areca nuts before reading Ben Barrie’s post – Sustainable Farming Maintains Biodiversity – on them, but I followed his link to the wikipedia article on the subject and found that they are sometimes (mistakenly) called “betel” nuts. That’s because the areca nut, a fruit of a palm tree, is often wrapped in a betel leaf from a vine in the Piperaceae family. They are chewed together for their stimulant effect. At any rate, areca nuts are valuable crops for reasons beyond their stimulant properties, and Barrie reports on a study that showed areca palms can be, and often are, grown in a way that maintains avian biodiversity. Ben’s post appears on John Barrie’s blog, Sustainable Design Update.

Winterwoman has posted an appreciation of the sweetgum tree along with a beautiful image of the tree, still with leaves, in the snow. I really envy Jennifer’s ability to convey a great deal of information in few words – in this brief post we learn about the distribution of the tree, its family, its main characteristics, its beauty, and its commercial uses, all in clear and engaging English.

Sweetgum-2Joan, on the other hand, has a mellow and humorous take on the tree in Not So Sweet Gum at Riverside Rambles. Her post brought me back to sweet gum raking days at home.

Don’t leave Riverside Rambles before you check out Larry’s post on the Playground Tree. To look at this relative of the kapok tree, with its green (from chlorophyll) trunk and stubby thorns, is to wonder how it got there…and Larry imagines its arrival in a way you won’t want to miss.

Jen English walks Berkeley in all seasons, appreciating trees in all their states. Her tour of the fruit trees of Berkeley, which this fall included persimmons, pomegranates, and citrus, is a guest post at Local Ecologist

Leaves, a Book, and Tarot

This edition of the festival ends as it began, with reflections.

From Return to the Center, three images of leaf in the form of found leaf monoprints. I’d like to know how they were done, but sometimes art should remain mysterious.

Jade L. Blackwater of Arboreality has been writing about Dr. Nalini Nadkarni’s book Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connections to Trees and I for one have it on my wishlist at amazon. Now she has participated, briefly, in an NPR broadcast on the book. Jade also pointed us toward an artist working on a Gaian Tarot, including #10, which features a nurse log.

So that’s it for this edition of Festival of the Trees. Enjoy the end of the year, however you celebrate it. The Jan 1 edition of Festival of the Trees will appear at Rock Paper Lizard. Submissions should be emailed to talba (at) shaw (dot) ca, with “Festival of the Trees” in the subject line, no later than December 28.

12 thoughts on “Festival of the Trees #30”

  1. Beautiful festival Mary, and the format is very nice. Horse Chestnuts?! I would love to have a Chestnut tree, or have seen them in all their glory many years ago. Thanks for hosting :)

  2. Thank you everyone for your kind comments.

    Beau, we called those fruits “horse chestnuts” in my neck of the woods, but DN Lee and wikipedia refer to them as “horse apples,” which I should have clarified. Another name for the tree is bois d’arc, and you’ll see a reference to this in the comment section of Lee’s post. Incidentally, one of the towns in my neck of the woods was named “Bois D’arc” (pronounced bow’dark by the natives) for this tree.

    All this to say that, the osage orange tree and the chestnut tree are unrelated. Still, I, too, would have loved to have lived with a true chestnut tree.

  3. I am so delighted to come across your blog.. by way of the amazing coral snake bean. I keep a blog of drawings from a botanical garden in Orlando, Being from the UK it is all so new to me..I learn and draw, and draw and learn and then do it all over again. I have made a few post of the trees you mentioned and of course we were brought up on the UK “conkers” game with horse chestnuts.
    I dont think there is a Coral Snake Bean tree at the gardens here. What a shame. I would love to draw that beautful pod to add to my odd pod collection and I do wish I had that oak gall, galls are a particular favourite of mine. ( my avatar at Blotanical)
    I will be back to read some more…and learn some more…

  4. Val,

    Hello and I’m glad you commented, prompting me to look at your own blog. How I envy your ability to draw! I keep a small sketch book and I do find that if I look at something closely enough to draw it, I learn a great deal. But…my “drawings” are barely legible compared to yours. However, I believe you’re right in that it takes drawing, and more drawing, and learning, and then doing it all over again. Absolutely. I’ll be visiting your blog, too, to read and look and learn.



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