They say a picture is worth one thousand words. Mostly I agree with that statement. But if you have looked at the book, “These Trees,” I think you will agree that the pictures have also been enhanced by the words they are paired with. I have had a few people ask me, “How did you ever find so many poems that fit perfectly with your photos?”
How indeed! First, I already knew Carol Pearce Bjorlie and had collaborated with her on a previous project we called “Poemscapes” where we had combined some of her poems with a slide show I made of my photographs that illustrated her poems. Two of those poems, Dialogue and These Trees also found their way into the book. I liked These Trees so well that it seemed natural to use it as the title of the book. Carol contributed two more poems to the book, Green Cathedral and Here – Autumn.
To see those Poemscape slide shows you can go to YouTube and search for:
“Poemscapes Dialogue Between Mountains”
or find poem “These Trees” on Youtube at: https://youtu.be/HrKGHtXVgOo
There are 19 other poets represented in this book. Two of them, Jean Cassidy and Annelinde Metzner, I know socially, or perhaps I should say musically as I have sung with both of them. Kate Stockman I had met at a retreat. The other 16 I found by posting a “Call for Poetry Submissions” on the Creative Writers Opportunities List. The posting was answered by over 90 poets submitting a few hundred poems.
I was amazed myself at the perfect matches I found: Paperbark Maple, by Sally Zakariya, when I already had photos of a Paperbark Maple; Redbud, by Annelinde Metzner, when I already had a photo of a Redbud tree; and Crone Oak by Kate Stockman when I already had photos of beautiful old live oaks taken in Jacksonville, Florida. But many other pairings between poem and photos sprang readily to mind and those were the ones placed into the book.
I had one when I visited the Hortulus Farm Garden and Nursery for the first time in June 2017.
Once you get to this idyllic Bucks County farm it is nearly impossible to believe it
is only about 30 miles away from Philadelphia. The farm house, still used as a residence, was built back in 1793. It is very easy to believe you have time-travelled back to the 19th century, if not the 18th. The 100-acre property was acquired in 1980 by Renny Reynolds and Jack Staub. Staub is a garden author whose work has appeared in House and Garden, House Beautiful, Organic Gardening, Country Living and numerous other publications, as well as books about gardening.
I have visited botanical gardens/arboretums where there were hardly any paths at all, others with paved paths as smooth as a linoleum floors and everything in between. But the wide lush mown grass paths that escort you through this estate are in themselves reason enough for a visit. You pay your $15 admission at the little store at the nursery, are given a brochure with a map and let loose to wander on your own. You can, if you have a group of 8 or more, make arrangements in advance for a group tour guided by one of the owners. As it was, it was just my sister and myself so we wandered around on our own, although we did accidently run into the owner and his friends twice.
The rest of the time we never saw another soul. You can rent the entire gardens, all 100 acres of them, for a mere $2,500 per day for an event or a photo shoot. I still can hardly believe we had the place to ourselves by the sheerest good luck. Our own private Eden indeed.
Thirty acres of the property are broken up into several types of gardens – edible plants, woodland walk, yellow garden, pool garden, herb garden, etc. But a tree-lover would not want to miss the “Specimen Arboretum.” At the entrance to the arboretum is a delightful little garden gate to welcome you.
Once through the gate, the first tree that will stop you in your tracks is a catalpa tree. In mid-June it still had a fair number of flowers as well as some seed pods. Maples, shaggy bark hickory and dogwoods are just some of the other trees on the property.
When we spoke with the owner he said it was a shame we hadn’t been there at the end of May because more things were blooming then. But as it was there was still plenty of botanical eye candy in terms of Indian Paintbrushes, irises and roses. There are also swans, ducks, at least one peacock and horses.
If you visit: the gardens are open May – October on Tuesdays – Saturdays from 10 – 4. The location is 60 Thompson Mill Rd. Wrightstown, PA. If you have a group of 8 or more you can call 215-598-0550 to arrange a tour. Make sure you take water! Once you leave the little store at the nursery there are no rest rooms and no place to procure water, so be sure to take some with you!
Marcel Proust wrote, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
With that thought in mind, I visited a botanical garden last week that I have toured before, the Morris Arboretum, and endeavored to look at the landscape with ‘new eyes’.
To my mind, Morris is both an arboretum and a botanical garden. I base this on the fact that Morris boasts many large, old, beautiful ‘specimen trees’ including these: Katsura, Bender oak, Trident maple, Blue atlas cedar, Lacebark pine, Weeping Canada hemlock, Japanese Stewartia and Threeflower maple which make it an arboretum. The Katsura is massive. The Weeping Canada hemlock feels mysterious and the Japanese Stewartia festoons itself with white flowers.
It is also a botanical garden as it boasts within its rose garden not only roses but also oak leaf hydrangeas, mountain laurel, clematis, foxglove and others. Altogether there are more than 12,000 labeled plants of approximately 2,500 types. Although the tags can be annoying to a photographer, I find them infinitely useful for learning to identify trees and plants and I appreciate them greatly whenever I see them.
Since I have completed my tree book I decided to wander the arboretum without an agenda. I have already photographed most of the major ‘specimen’ trees and I decided to just amble about in my sunhat, with my camera and tripod, and allow myself to be surprised by beauty.
How could I possibly have overlooked the Dragon Spruce? The trunk and needles of the tree are not terribly remarkable, but the roots are! They curl and stretch like ocean waves caught and held fast by soil and rock.
A tree that stopped me in my tracks and literally dropped me to my knees to permit closer inspection of its bark is the White Tigress maple. Look at the bark closely, doesn’t it look as though it is deliberately inscribed? But is the ‘inscription’ meant as decoration or to communicate something? It is said the tree got its name because someone thought it looked like a tiger had scraped the bark with its claws. To me the lines are more delicate than that. Take a look and let me know what you think.
I’m also including a picture of the Chinese Witch Hazel here, although it is a shrub and not technically a tree. But I loved the texture of its leaves. I only discovered after I got home and looked it up that it flowers from January to March and that it has a particularly lovely scent. I never suspected that while admiring its summer leaves.
Of course if one is not on deadline, why not linger awhile in the well- manicured, terraced rose garden? The roses in mid-June were in full bloom as were several other flowers, including a glorious purple poppy.
The Morris Arboretum, part of the University of Pennsylvania’s holdings, is in the greater Philadelphia area. Its address is: 100 East Northwestern Avenue, Pennsylvania.
Ruthie photographs trees because she loves them.
October 13 from
11am - 3pm
Mountain Made Gallery
Old Airport Rd.
November 16 - 18
"Tis the Season"
Holiday Fair at
David Event Center
761 New Boyleston Highway
333 Thompson St.