The Angel Oak tree may be the best-known and most-loved tree east of the Mississippi. It certainly is no stretch to say it is the best-known and most-loved tree in the Carolinas. I have given several talks and been in many shows these past two years showing my tree photographs. The one tree that people have mentioned to me repeatedly is the Angel Oak. They often mistake the photo on the cover of "These Trees" as the Angel Oak. The cover photo is actually of a Japanese Maple.
The Angel Oak tree is located on Johns Island, just outside of Charleston, South Carolina. Its age is estimated to be between 200 - 500 years old depending on your source. It is 66 feet tall and its shade covers 17,200 square feet. Interestingly its name derives from Justus and Martha Angel who owned it at one time -- not from any celestial being. The tree is now owned by the city of Charleston. Admission is free. It is surrounded by a tall gate so you'll need to visit during official visiting hours to get through the gate.
I had visited the Angel Oak, and photographed it, three times before the publication of my book. But I didn't use it in the book because, well, I found it difficult to focus on the tree and not all the signs all around the tree saying 'don't sit on this tree' and the signs, literally, attached to those signs saying 'do not move these signs.' (See photo below)
But I visited the Angel Tree again recently and realized that with a change of perspective I could enjoy the tree much more. The first picture with this blog is a close in of one section of the tree high above any of the annoying signs. It is my favorite picture of the tree. A picture including the signs is just above this text. This reminds me again of a good life lesson that changing your perspective can well change your view of life for the better. It doesn't mean you should ignore all the annoying things that distract you from the beauty of life -- but finding a way to focus on specific parts or areas may bring you joy.
There are two photos below this text, side by side. The one on the left is the Angel Tree (live oak) the one on the right is on the cover of "These Trees" (Japanese maple). It isn't the leaves that I notice with these trees, but rather the graceful curving of their limbs, or what I think of as their 'lines.'
Both exemplify the words of the poet Kahlil Gibran, "Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky."
Someone posted on Facebook that each day a forty foot tree takes in 50 gallons of dissolved nutrients from the soil, converts that into ten pounds of carbohydrates and releases 60 cubic feet of pure oxygen into the air.
I wasn't sure whether to be impressed or not. I mean, I have no idea how much oxygen I need to breathe each day. This might be a massive amount of oxygen in relation to my needs as a human, or it might be rather puny. So I did a little research and found an article by Luis Villazon in the BBC Focus magazine. According to this article, a human breathes about 9.5 tons of air in a year. Oxygen, however, is only 23% of the air we breathe (by mass) and we only take in about 1/3 of the oxygen that is available to us in the air of each breath. That means we need 740 kg of oxygen per year.
So, how many trees do I need to support my personal oxygen habit? According to Villazon's article I need 7 or 8 trees. Another article says I only need about two trees to produce my oxygen. But, of course, this depends on various other factors. Redwoods, aspens and oaks tend to produce more oxygen than other types of trees. But, THIS depends on where the tree is in its lifecycle as trees what are still growing produce more oxygen than trees who have reached their mature size.
As for the 'how' they produce oxygen, the scientists are in agreement on this: through the process of photosynthesis when trees take sunlight, add carbon dioxide from the air -- this produces oxygen. But it sounds like magic to me!
Above, from left: catkins on display, leaf catching the sunlight, trademark curly corkscrew of branches
I never noticed the 'walking stick' tree/shrub until a friend drew my attention to it yesterday. Obviously 'walking stick' is a misnomer as something so twisted wouldn't make good raw material for a walking stick. But the corkscrewing branches do add great interest to a winter landscape when the tree has lost its leaves.
The 'walking stick' has various names: contorted filbert, corkscrew hazel and Harry Lauder's walking stick. There is also lack of consensus as to whether it is a tree, a 'tree-like shrub' or a deciduous shrub. One point of agreement is that they all bear yellow catkins that start in late autumn and get bigger in the spring. This shrub, which can grow to 10 feet tall, is a relative of the birch and will thrive in sun or partial shade.
The leaves on most trees come and go depending on the season. Deciduous trees bear leaves that dazzle us with color and delight us with shapes. The flowers on some trees, horsechestnut and magnolia come readily to mind, provide us with their own delights -- but are short-lived.
When you are choosing trees for your property, you might want to give thought to bark for ornamental purposes. Bark, after all, will be there 365 days a year. A dependable source of texture and color. Some barks have a 'solid' appearance, akin to a wallpaper in the landscape. Other tree barks add interest because of the patterns created when they peel.
Trees with peeling barks include: crepe myrtle (some debate whether it is a tree or a shrub), Chinese quince, sycamore, eucalyptus, shagbark hickory, birches, aspens and Kousa dogwood. Within the category of trees with peeling barks are some of my very favorites -- the paperbarks. There are paperbark maples, river birch and Melaleuca(tea tree). I've had the pleasure of photographing several of these interesting barks (below).
Pictured above from left: Paperbark Maple, Paperbark Melaleuca, Eucalyptus
Here in beautiful western North Carolina, where I live, the leaves have not yet shown any inclination to change colors. This may be because the temperatures, until this week, have been in the 80s every day and the nights have not been cool enough to trigger color changes.
I haven't seen any wooly worms yet either -- those old timey prognosticators about winter. The rings on those black and auburn 'caterpillars' are supposed to forecast the severity of the upcoming winter. Maybe this warm autumn will spill
over to winter and we'll have a warm winter as well.
Right now we have been getting lashings of rain due to the hurricane -- several roads are closed, as are the schools, and an emergency shelter has been opened. All this is from rainfall as we don't live near a river. We also had the wettest July on record and the wettest August. Probably the wettest September on record as well, but I haven't seen the official record on that. So our ground was pretty saturated already.
I don't need to consult any of the woolly worm's kin to know all this ground saturation does not bode well for the plethora of mature trees around here. And I fear for them. I feel helpless to help out the trees, to dry out the soil a bit on their behalf. All I can do is fret and keep my fingers crossed -- and I know that isn't helping a darn thing.
Well, I can share a tree picture below of a Possumhaw tree I took at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont, North Carolina. The name 'possumhaw' made me smile and I hope it will make you smile too. So we can all stop worrying about the weather for a little while.
There's a new 'enchanted forest' and it is at the Tryon School of Arts and Crafts in Tryon, North Carolina. The centerpiece of the show is a towering tree made by Mary and Terry Dill. With 'enchanted forest' as a theme, sculptors, wood carvers, potters, photographers, painters and jewelry makers got to work on objects both realistic and imaginative. Hope Rodearmer created "fairy chairs," each one its own fanciful landscape. Kate Stockman fashioned a line of tree-themed jewelry. Others made gnomes, gnome houses, sculpted busts and even two dragons.
The show, which includes over a dozen of Ruthie Rosauer's tree photographs, runs until August 30.
You hear a lot about pollinators in the news these days, mostly because of the alarming decline in the population of bees. There is no denying that bees are excellent pollinators -- they tend to spend a lot of time on one blossom and pick up a tremendous amount of pollen that way. Butterflies are another well-known pollinator and their numbers have also been in decline. Monarch butterfly populations have declined 90% in the last 20 years.
Butterflies are not as prolific as bees as their bodies don't carry the large quantity of pollen that bees do. But they do have two advantages -- one is that they often fly longer distances and the other is that the pollen they carry in their mouths stays fresher longer.
Pollen carries the tree's male genes. Trees such as birches, hazels, pines, spruces, firs, cottonwoods, oaks, elms, and walnuts rely on the wind for pollination. Insect-pollinated trees include apples, cherries, catalpas, horse chestnuts, tulip trees and willows.
How can we help the butterfly and bee populations continue their important work of pollination? There are many lists available of plants such as butterfly milkweed, goldenrod, Joe Pye and blazing stars. But TREES can also play an important role as host plants because they often provide the first available food for pollinators in the spring. The top ten trees in support of butterfly/moth species are: oak, black cherry, willow, birch, poplar, crabapple, maple, elm, pine and hickory. So next time you are thinking about supporting pollinators in your own home landscape -- don't overlook the trees!
The gallery shows I have been in have mainly consisted of me (and other artists) bringing in our works of art already matted and framed and the art is then hung on walls. That's all well and good! But right now I am working on a show called "The Enchanted Forest" that is going to be atypical to say the least. And I'm very excited about it!
For starters, Mary Dill is working on creating a giant tree that will be installed in the center of the gallery. This will not be a realistic tree in terms of its bark or leaves, but will have the recognizable shape of a tree. Surprises will be hidden in various nooks and crannies of this tree. Tree-themed jewelry, crafted by Kate Stockman, will be used to adorn the tree. And a few fanciful creatures you'd not see in real life will be clustered at its base. If you take the time to look you'll see a water wheel and millpond.
There will be plenty of my true-to-life photos of trees on the wall, as well as some of Carol Pearce Bjorlie's tree poems. Hope Rodearmar’s “fairy chairs” are sure to enchant! Art Sauder’s wood carvings, Sarah Jane Oiler’s wire-wrapped art and Eva McCray’s pottery will enhance the entire experience.
The opening for this show is Friday, August 3, from 6 - 8pm and will run until August 30. The address is: 373 Harmon Field Rd. in Tryon, North Carolina. I hope to see you in this 'enchanted forest.'
Kansas is famous for being a 'prairie' state. So I wouldn't expect to see much other than cottonwoods and grasses at an arboretum and botanical garden in Overland Park, MO -- south of Kansas City, MO and close to the Kansas border. But I was wrong! And pleased to be wrong!
These 300 acres DO have 180 acres set aside in prairie, but they also have 13 gardens, a sculpture garden, Monet garden and 6 miles of paved and wood chip trails. These wood chip trails traverse riparian woodlands and mesic oak-hickory forest. Their visitor center has available a black and white booklet about some of their trees (which are numbered and located on a map so you can easily find them) with a botanical line drawing. If you are a tree lover, you will definitely want to pick one up and use it. They are a variety of trees including: hickory, elm, ash, sycamore, walnut, chinkapin oak, pawpaws, littleleaf linden and Pekin lilacs.
I think it is wonderful, in this world of ever-dwindling freshwater resources, that they have a xeriscape garden as well. This garden showcases plants that have low water requirements. I also appreciate that leashed dogs are permitted on all the woodchip trails.
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.