Personally I am usually leery of young botanical gardens and arboretums. Trees take a long time to grow into their mature shapes!!!! But Jim Gibbs, who owns the largest landscape company in Georgia as well as Gibbs Garden, was at work creating the manicured landscape long before he opend the garden gate to the public six years ago. He started working on his private 300 acre estate in 1980. So it is 'young' in terms of being open to the public but benefits from 30+ years of being manicured.
If you love daffodils this would be the place to come in March -- there are over FOUR MILLION daffodil bulbs underground just waiting for Spring. Fifty acres of daffodils! You can check on their website for more up to date info on when things will bloom, but in general they expect the daffodils to be in bloom in early March through mid-April. Cherries will be in blossom the last two weeks of March and dogwoods in early April. They have festivals celebrating ferns, azaleas, rhododendrons, roses and hydrangeas. The hydrangeas make their splash starting in late May. And there are eight acres of wildflowers!
But if you are reading this website it is because you love TREES, so let me tell you that there are more than 2,000 Japanese maples. There are 150 varieties of Japanese Maples, most concentrated in the 40-acre Japanese Maple section, so there are different varieties coming into their peak fall colors throughout the season. As if the trees themselves aren't enough to bathe your eyes in beauty -- there are also reflecting ponds, decorative bridges and pieces of artwork and statues scattered throughout the area.
This beautiful 220 acre garden will be closed on December 10 and will not reopen until the first of March. It is located outside a tiny town (Ball Ground) about an hour north of Atlanta. Lots of free parking. Admission for adults is $20 for one day, annual passes cost $50. There is a cafe with prepackaged sandwiches (the chicken salad is quite good) and beverages. Seating is only available outside. Be forewarned the garden is always closed on Mondays, and for most of the year is also closed on Tuesdays.
The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is frequently cited in the "Top Ten" lists of Botanical Gardens in the USA. I definitely agree with this distinction for the Richmond, VA destination. Although the garden is very proud of its very large greenhouse (with a collection of orchids) and Japanese Garden (not its strongest suit in my opinion) when I asked the docent at the front desk where the big specimen trees were she was able to rattle off several beauties and mark them on the map. (Some botanical gardens and arboretum already have this info on their pre-printed maps, but Lewis Ginter does not, so I recommend asking.)
They have the largest Gingko Biloba tree I have personally ever laid eyes on. I've seen several, but none more than about 16" in diameter (trunk). I didn't measure this one, but its deeply textured trunk was massive (photo below).
Next to the Gingko Biloba was a beautifully colored red maple. Crepe myrtles and several other unidentified trees were in the same area.
They provide a large Children's Garden area. This area has many baskets available with collections of tools, suggestions, hints, activities, etc. Within this area you will also find a gigantic, sprawling mulberry tree that is over 100 years old (pictured below) and a persimmon trees. The persimmon fruit looked like a cross of an apple with the peachy glow coloration of an apricot. Lots of school groups were visiting -- how lovely!
If you are a member of another botanical garden it is worth checking to see if it has reciprocity with Lewis Ginter. Mine does, so I got in free. I even got a discount in its excellent gift shop when I bought a Christmas gift for my husband and a pair of tree earrings for myself.
In my last blog post I was bemoaning how late the trees have been this year in western North Carolina to change the color of their leaves. We got hit with very high winds and heavy rains three days ago. Regrettably, many large trees were lost. Of the trees that remain, however, about 1/3 are changing their colors even as I type.
I don't know why I am so yearning for Fall this year. Green has always been my favorite color. I should be rejoicing as the extra length of the 'green leaf season.' And yet -- I am positively yearning for the colors to change. I want the magic Mother Nature's palette!
While I am waiting to be dazzled in 2017 I have been going through some of my Autumn photos from years past. This one was taken on the road to Cataloochee in Smoky Mountain National Park back in 2014.
The Supremes had a big Motown hit with "You Can't Hurry Love." I have been singing this song and substituting "autumn" for the word 'love' this October as I have been impatiently waiting for the leaves to change colors. But a stubborn thermometer that keeps showing the temperature at 80 degrees and above has been thwarting my hopes. In fact, Asheville set a record for highest temperature one day last week at 86 degrees. The former record was set in 1956.
The reason a tree's leaves are green in the summer is because they contain chlorophyll. Chlorophyll takes a lot of a tree's energy to maintain, but is worth the effort in the summer when there is abundant sunlight. The chlorophyll takes the sunlight and converts it into nutrition for the tree. But as the days start to get shorter and there is less sunlight for the cholorophyll to 'harvest' it makes sense for the tree to re-absorb its chlorophyll.
In the absence of the green chlorophyll the yellow and orange colors of the leaves can now be seen. The yellow and orange colors have always been there but have been masked by the green of the chlorophyll.
Burgundy and red color in the leaves, however, are a different matter. They will only occur with a combination of bright sunlight in the daytime and colder temperatures at night. A warmer autumn, like this one, might yield fall colors of yellow and orange but the burgundy and reds will probably be in short supply.
The photograph below was taken last week in the Pisgah Forest near Brevard, NC.
The Mountain to Sea Trail promoters say it goes from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. But if you get down to brass tacks and look at the map of the 1175 mile trail (1891 km) you will find it is not all continuous trail, but relies on 'connecting backroads' in part. However, it is a continuous trail from its start at Clingman's Dome in Smoky Mountain National Park to Stone Mountain State Park. In the process it crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway not far from Asheville and the Pisgah Inn. And it is there that I have found some interesting trees.
Both trees are right on the trail, and there is no way you can miss them. This is not a heavily traveled portion of the trail; even when there are several sight seers at the Mills River Valley Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway I have only ever encountered one other person on the trail. Pretty amazing given its proximity to Asheville!
I first visited Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden last spring. At that time I was gobsmacked by the pink blossoms of the Horse Chestnut Tree and other flowering trees. I went back last week and, despite the fact the calendar said it was September the garden was still in full summer green, with a few exceptions such as this Golden Raintree.
I was also delightfully surprised to see the entire gardens bedecked in fanciful decorations for their "Chinese Lanterns" event. The natural beauty of this garden is so abundant that one might be tempted to say these decorations were "gilding the lily" but nevertheless they are fun and colorful. They are lit in the evening, which must be a fabulous experience. The celebration runs until the end of October. Here is a shot of how they look in the day time.
Poemscapes is a term I use to describe the fusion of photographs with the words in a poem. Basically it is like an old-fashioned slide show where the pictures change with the words of the poem being read aloud. I made the first Poemscapes program about three years ago with Carol Pearce Bjorlie, the poet and cellist.
Carol joined me again yesterday to play a few selections on the cello and to read her poems from the book, THESE TREES. Kate Stockman also joined us and read her poem, "Crone Oak," along with Annelinda Metzner's poem, "Redbud." I had made Poemscapes of "A Walk in the Woods" by Diane Egge, "Entering the Forest" by Carol V. Davis and "My True Loves" by Marilyn Sequoia.
The Kaplan auditorium in the Hendersonville Library, where the event was held, was nearly full. Afterwards several people made suggestions for additional places I should visit to see trees. These suggestions are: Dolly Sod in West Virginia, Arcadia National Park in Maine, Chesapeake Arboretum in Virginia and three people suggested Joyce Kilmer Forest in North Carolina. I love having suggestions of more trees to visit! So I appreciate the suggestions. And if YOU have any suggestions of good places to meet trees I'd love to hear about them too.
I live in western North Carolina; in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. People come from miles and miles around to see our 'fall color.' They come in station wagons with their kids, on tour buses, and dragging their travel trailers. Motorcyclists seem particularly partial to "leaf peeping." My point here is that for us, fall color is a REALLY big deal. But unlike other 'big deals' like Christmas or Thanksgiving, we don't have a specific date circled on the calendar for the day the trees will start displaying their beautiful multi-hued extravaganza. We just have to sort of guess.
I confess that I am getting pretty excited about the upcoming fall foliage, rather like a kid looking forward to Halloween. So I ventured out today, even though I knew it was still really too early, just to look for SIGNS that the colors were on their way. And I saw some! The first picture here is of a Japanese Maple in Bullington Gardens, just outside of Hendersonville, NC.
.Poemscapes is an audiovisual event where pictures of trees are matched with poems about trees. Word and image have been fused into a new sensual landscape of slide shows that celebrate trees in all their splendor.
On September 20, 2017 from 3 - 4pm Hendersonville Public Library will host a Poemscapes event where photographer Ruthie Rosauer will be joined by poets Kate Stockman and Carol Pearce Bjorlie. The poets will be reading tree poems aloud. Bjorlie will also play a few selections on the cello. Trees photographs will be displayed in slide shows and in prints.
Those who have seen the tree photographs have remarked, " . . .it is an ecstatic celebration of nature!" and "The photos and poems left me feeling warmly peaceful and grateful for the wonders of this world! Beautifully done!"
The library is located at 301 N. Washington St. in Hendersonville. The event is free.
Sean Smith, a reporter for the Hendersonville Times-News, wrote a lovely article about the book, "These Trees." It was published in the September 3, 2017 issue. Here is the link:
The above photograph of a Sargent Weeping Hemlock, taken at Bullington Garden in Hendersonville, NC, was the top photograph in the article. Smith did a good job of capturing my passion for trees because I am, as he quotes me, "besotted with bark." The below photograph of monkeypod bark, taken in Hawaii, is one of my top 20 favorite bark pictures.
The article also references my next event -- Poemscapes -- at the Hendersonville Public Library at 3pm on September 20. It will be a mixed media event of slides, prints, and poems about trees. Poets Kate Stockman and Carol Pearce Bjorlie will be reading their poems. I hope to see you there.
Ruthie photographs trees because she loves them.
600 Carolina Village Rd.
November 29, 2017
2 - 3pm
HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE and SALE
95 Upper Red Oak Trail
828-698-6104 for more info
December 1 and 2
10am -- 4pm
Tryon Painters and Sculptors -- 78 N. Trade St. Tryon, NC 28782
Opening March 3, 2018
Gallery show of Ruthie Rosauer's tree photography
August 4 - August 31, 2018
Tryon School of Arts and Crafts -- 373 Harmon Field Rd. Tryon, NC