Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Sunday, February 5, 2012

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on." Robert Frost

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on." Robert Frost

Sometimes it seems that all living things tenaciously hold on to life, even in the face of pain, injury and disability. The same is often true for you and me, and for other animals and plants. Trees grip tiny pockets of soil between boulders and exploit cracks in rock (or make them crack) to anchor their roots, chopped down plants often send out that one new stem or branch, seeds can lie dormant for years, awaiting the right conditions to sprout and a tiny bit of root left in the ground can re-sprout (much to the dismay of gardeners pulling dandelions and poke weed!).

I love old trees (YES! I am a tree hugger! No surprise there), especially ones that have experienced great adversity and managed to go on. One great place to see old, contorted trees in in Colonial Williamsburg (and you can walk the public streets there for free, though I do recommend taking the formal tour at least once). There are many examples of very old trees there, including twisted yews and contorted paulownias (the princess tree- with beautiful purple flowers in spring see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulownia ).
I think the tree pictured above is a paulownia, but I can't be sure until it is in leaf and blooms. The paulownia, originally from China, is a fast-growing, and invasive tree, imported here for its lovely flowers and fine-grained wood. It forms these weird contorted shapes, as it is quite subject to injury, but keeps on growing. It is not a tree I would recommend planting, due to its invasive nature and brittleness, but it is pretty and compelling to look at!
Happy gardening!

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