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.