Festival of the Trees 44

Hello friend! Welcome to the February 2010 edition of the Festival of the Trees, hosted with gracious humility by treeblog. It’s time to take another walk through Festival Forest, so please dress in suitable attire. Quickly pack yourself some refreshments too – tea and biscuits, beer and a Scotch egg, whatever – and then we can get off in time to see the forest sunrise. Maybe we’ll see the trees lit up like the little Appalachian glow that Carolyn of Roundtop Ruminations saw last week.

O-ho! What rustles? A friendly badger approaches! What’s it got for us? A piece of parchment? Ah, it’s a map of Festival Forest, annotated by one of the Forest Guardians, Jade Blackwater. These green ‘X’s must be things she wants us to take a look at. Yep, these’ll fit into our walk nicely. The first one isn’t too far in this direction, so we might as well make it our first port of call… Aye, there’s a note attached to this tree. It’s a letter – sorry – it’s a poem entitled, Tu B’Shvat, by Rebecca of Rebecca’s Raps.

All photos in this post are Creative Commons-licensed and were found on Flickr.

Now, see that tree over there? That’s a myrtle beech. Over at Tasmanian Plants, David takes a look at how this tree from that island’s cool temperate rainforest managed to survive the most recent glacial period. And that scrub oak next to it? Greg of Greg Laden’s Blog tells us how a scrub oak in southern California has survived for an estimated 13,000 years by cloning itself. At that age it would have been a seedling in the last ice age, back when the myrtle beech was still chilling in refugia!

That tree by the stream is a western redcedar. It isn’t a true cedar though – it actually belongs to the cypress family. Western redcedar is the subject of a comprehensive post for The Clade by Rachel Shaw.

I don’t know what those twisting, barkless trees over there are, but I know that A. Decker has some drawings of them at Resonant Enigma. When it comes to identifying trees, things just got a bit easier for visitors to Riverside Park – the trees have now got little tags with their common and taxonomic names on, as Melissa of Out walking the dog discovered recently.

This part of the Forest is a lot colder than the rest (I hope you brought a coat). That freezing creek could have been the inspiration for Angie’s haiga at woman, ask the question. And that hoar frost… the way it transforms the leaves and the bark and the grass and everything is just magical. It’s not just the Forest either – take a look at Silvia’s photos of her wintry back garden at Windywillow. Kitty has another couple of frost photos at Into My Own.

Hard frozen ground plus dormant trees plus a prolonged episode of rainfall can all add up to a flash flood, something that occurred in Dave Bonta’s neck of the woods recently at Via Negativa. To top it off, the temperature dropped and the floodwaters froze!

The frost here is pretty deep. Er, it’s snow. Pretty deep snow. Outside the Forest, Chestnut Coppice and Sweep Wood took a decent hit of snow – Mike’s got a hefty photo-record over at Peplers in Rye. Eped of fish without faces has arranged some very wintrous photos of the infamous Donner Pass, whose subjects include staghorn lichen and the incredible-impossible phenomenon of snow rollers!

Isn’t this Forest strange? We’re barely taken a hundred steps from the snow and already there’s a flowering tree that closely resembles the pink poui in Gillena Cox’s webshots album, Scenery & Nature: Trees Bloom.

Some trees hold secrets… swamp4me at SwampThings shares a live oak with a mysterious wound. Who or what inflicted it and why? Is everything what it seems? All we know is, the tree lives on... What if a tree grew up next to a barbed wire fence and grew around the barbed wire, but at some later date the fence was taken down to leave behind a secret section of barbed wire buried deep inside the heart of the tree? Vicky reveals the secret at TGAW.

Hey. You feeling the bad vibes in this area? Those stumps over there were once healthy trees. I hate it when trees in the Forest have to be cut down, but the powers that be can be ignorant or unfair. Luigi at the Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog laments that his mother-in-law was forced to cut down some of her eucalypt plantation in Kenya under a government initiative to combat drought. Sometimes a tree has to come down in the interests of public safety, even if it’s a grand old vet. Michelle of Rambling Woods tells the sad story of Herbie, a victim of Dutch elm disease and New England’s oldest elm tree.

Have you ever noticed that some trees resemble animals? Somewhere in this forest there’s a silver birch that looks like a reindeer, and Shashi has a lizardy reptile-tree at his anAestheticbard photoblog. Speaking of birch trees, Sheridan at Willow House Chronicles recounts a Native American legend that explains the branch scars on birches with the story of Winabojo, a spirit-boy.

Hold on a sec, there’s an arrow made of sticks on the ground here! That’ll have been left by Dave Bonta, one of the Forest Guardians. Where does it point? At that tree down there with its bole all swathed with strips of material? That reminds me of a line from Marly Youmans’ poem A Tree for Ezekiel at qarrtsiluni.

Let’s just rest for a minute by this maple. I want to show you its twigs. Do you see those little wrinkles? Well, Seabrooke at the Marvelous in nature explains how by finding those wrinkles you can not only determine the age of a twig or branch, but also how much the twig or branch has grown in each year.

There was once a road that ran through the Festival Forest, but that was a long time ago. Today you could walk right by without noticing that a road was ever there. Once it fell out of use, the forest just swallowed it up. Rudyard Kipling poetised a very similar story in The Way Through The Woods, a fine poem to which Jasmine of Natures Whispers has added some fitting imagery.

You know, I never cease to be amazed by the sheer diversity of the trees here in Festival Forest. Over there are oaks, but over there are palm trees! The dedicated iphoneographer Bruce Moore shares a moody photos of a palm over at brucecmoore iPhone photos. When you say ‘palm tree’, I think ‘coconut’. If it’s a red hot day in the Dominican Republic and you fancy a refreshing drink of coconut milk, someone might just climb up and fetch you one. Moe at Iowa Voice has the photos! Still, not everyone likes palm trees. If only the haters would read Jacqueline’s passionate defence of palm trees at SAVING OUR TREES. The Alexandra Palm in her back garden is way more than just a ‘telegraph pole’ – it’s a valuable food source for birds and a possum!

And still with the palms, when Billy Goodnick saw a fig intertwined with a palm tree he got a little hot under the collar in this article at Fine Gardening. Mr Goodnick also gets excited about the colours of the leaves in autumn at Santa Barbara Edhat. I was apparently misinformed when I was told that deciduous trees turn yellow and orange and red because forest dwellers paint the leaves by the light of a full moon.

Jade Blackwater of Arboreality spent several months of 2008 living in Santa Barbara. Living next to a warm, sandy beach is all well and good, but if you’re a forest-dweller it might take some getting used to.

Are you a bonsai person? Or have you tried to keep one in the past? John Conn (b0n2a1) curates a gallery of spectacular specimens on Flickr called Bonsai.

The bare trees in this part of the forest are great to photograph against a beautiful, clear, blue sky on a fresh winter’s day. I’m sure Susan of Garden Rant would agree. A moody sky can work as well, like in these photos at Wanderin’ Weeta, snapped by the eponymous wanderer herself. A different approach to these bare trees delivers results just as pleasing, as Karen at trees, if you please demonstrates: photographing the shadows that the naked trees cast along the floor.

I can’t tell what flavour these trees are without their leaves on, but I’m pretty sure that they aren’t baldcypresses. I should be able to identify those in winter now after reading Genevieve’s post at Tree Notes. Actually, tell a lie - I do know what this tree is. Do you see those spiky balls hanging there? They’re sweet gum seed balls. I learned about these recently from Katie at Green-Wood Cemetery Trees.

Let’s stop by this pine tree for a moment and take a close look at one of these pine cones. These little winged structures wedged into the cone hold the seeds – Roberta will tell you more at Growing With Science Blog.

Have you ever fallen in love with a tree? Heather Cameron of A day in the Country has. Actually, she fell in love with a forest. AnneTanne of AnneTannes Kruidenklets fell in love with the English oak growing in the cornfield that neighbours her house. When the field came up for sale, guess what happened? I’m sure you’d do the same to keep the tree that you love safe.

Woah! That giant growth on that tree there! That is one fine burr. Almost as big as the one JSK saw on her ‘campground – dam loop’ walk at Anybody Seen My Focus?

I’ve heard that there are many old marker stones lost in this forest. Caroline at Coastcard tells of the Rufus Stone in the New Forest. The original stone was erected in 1745 to mark the site of an ancient oak tree, itself the site of a much older event: the death of a king in August 1100.

Shhh!. Stand still a minute and look where I’m pointing. Up in that Scots pine. A red squirrel. Red squirrels are native to Scotland, but they are under threat from the introduced grey squirrel, as Kevin of Fraoch Woodland will tell you.

Can you smell that salty tang in the air? We’ve walked right through Festival Forest and we’re about to come out onto a beach. There’s a flotsam- and jetsam-decorated tree (deceased) standing in the ocean that Nina of Ornamental will show you. And there’s just one last surprise before we get there: dancing clouds.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed your journey today (or however long it took us – time in this forest passes strangely). I think the best way to bring it all to a close would be to solemnly quote these words of wisdom from Pablo of Roundrock Journal:

I just like the idea of knowing that the forest is a busy place even when we’re not around. And it reminds me that there is always something interesting to see in the forest if I just take the time to look for it.


Super. There are just two things left to say:
1. Thank-you to everyone who contributed to this edition of the Festival of the Trees, and thank-you again to Dave Bonta for forwarding on a lot of submissions, and Jade Blackwater for going the extra mile with her submissions. It’s been a pleasure.
2. Next month’s Festival of the Trees (#45) will be over at The Voltage Gate. Send in your submissions to thevoltagegate [at] gmail [dot] com. The deadline is the 26th of February.

Toodleoo-the-noo!


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