Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Grandpa Tree

This wonderful little tree has popped up in this blog beforemore than once, in fact – and so I suppose I should admit that I have a distinct fondness for this little crabapple tree that sits in my parents' back yard, overlooking a corner of the deck. We call it the Grandpa Tree, because it was planted in honor and in memory of my mom's father. Every time I venture home it provides new smiles and photos. This past weekend the berries were glistening in the sun and looked particularly perfect. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tree of the day - stunning silhouette

I love this tree. I took the photo about a month ago in Prospect Park. Glorious tree, no?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

The holiday season is a time when you may hear an awful lot of singing about Pear Trees. With Partridges in them. I don't know why. There are conflicting stories about the origins of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and I don't want to join the debate.

But I do want to share my discovery of an espaliered Pear tree that lives in the glorious Cloisters in Manhattan. What, you may ask, is an espaliered tree? Well, I've just now learned that to espalier is to train a tree (generally a fruit tree, it seems) to grow in a pattern or shape, flat against a wall or lattice. A 2-D tree! Basically this might be perfect for my future Brooklyn garden. But it also seems to have been rather popular in medieval times. In any case, the Cloisters is a wonderful secret haven in northern Manhattan that is a home to amazing medieval European art and architecture. And trees. The gardens are not particularly big, but they are immensely charming and satisfying. And peaceful. Oh, to be a monk. And there are pear trees. Also, you can follow the Cloisters Garden blog here.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all! I have been enjoying the various trees of the season - mostly Christmas trees, of course - but the storm that rolled through last weekend blanketed the neighborhood trees in delightful piles of snow. For now...may you all take as much pleasure in my miniature apartment Christmas tree as I do. It has brought many smiles to my face so far this December...


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ultimate Field Guide to the Trees of the Big Apple

For a tree-lover and blogger-of-trees, I certainly don't know many scientific tree facts, nor do I know how to identify most trees. Thus, I picked up "New York City Trees, A Field Guide for the Metropolitan Area" at the Brooklyn Book Festival in September. I'm super excited about it. The cover promises "How to identify trees;" "Best places to see trees;" "Official NYC Great Trees;" and "Ten tree walks." I can't wait to walk all ten.

In other news: the Christmas tree lady arrived this week with her trees from Canada, and has parked herself, as usual, in front of the neighborhood Key Food. I love walking slowly by and breathing in the piney-wonderful air. It's holiday season!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A crisp autumn day in Brooklyn

It took me about two days after I came back from France to fall in love with Brooklyn again. The first day or so was rainy and I missed Paris. Then, I remembered why I live here. It's such a lively, wonderful place in the world. And oh man, do I love my park. Prospect Park. In the fall it's just perfect. A perfect place to be. The trees can be breathtaking. I snapped a few shots that don't do it justice. Autumn is on it's way out...and winter is fast approaching. But here's a glimpse of the autumn trees I saw this week in my neighborhood and "my" park.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Paris, Je t'adore!

Oh! My dear friends. I've just returned from a vacation with my friend Emily to the oh-so-enchanting city of Paris! It really is as wonderful as in the movies and your dreams. Here is a look at how the Parisians do "les arbres."

These pretty smooth trees with the funny hanging fuzz balls are everywhere:

And I do believe I've correctly identified them as "London Plane" trees - a close relative - if not a hybrid – of the American Sycamore and the "Oriental Plane."

Next, Some beautiful October leaves at the Jardin du Luxembourg:

The best place for tree sightings, however, was at the immensely beautiful and breathtakingly extravagant Palace of Versailles. In the gardens there were rows of citrus trees, "Dr. Seuss-like" clipped (topiary) trees (which should be considered "tree art," I think), "square" trees, tall graceful trees, and many more. (I don't know why the French are so obsessed with geometric trees. It's dreadfully unnatural, but fascinating, nonetheless). All were living amidst sculptures and fountains. Glorious! I could spend a week there! Indulge:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A look back

A final taste of some trees from this past spring. Next...moving into delicious autumn! I get chills just thinking about it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

**YOUR TREES** [Jamie and Keith's crazy tree sighting]

It's delightful when I hear that friends, family, or even strangers think of me when they see a fantastic, weird, funny, or beautiful tree. Several of you have sent photos or at least stories my way and it truly makes my day. I need to be better about posting them. I plan to go back through my emails and put more of them on the blog.

This one made my awesome brother and sister-in-law think of me immediately. Because look at it!! So kooky and adorable and funny and straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. Which is quite possibly my favorite kind. I don't remember where it was taken (and I certainly don't know the oblivious folks who have been immortalized in the background)...but here it is. A fabulous tree. Tall and twisty and skinny, complete with a goofy hair-do.

Thanks for sending!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tree Museum! And other tree works by Katie Holten

Terrific discovery of the day: A "Tree Museum" that is also a public art project!! How incredibly perfect. So, of course, sometime between now and October 12th I'll be heading up to the Bronx to listen to the trees. And then I'll share my discoveries.

Here's what I know. The Tree Museum is a public art project by artist Katie Holten, who seems to be at least as enamored with trees and art as I am. Perhaps more so. Her work ranges from drawings to installation art to public projects involving living plants. Her work addresses the themes of "permanence, disappearance and environment" and she is interested in "how people make sense of and cope with their surroundings" (see LMAKprojects).

Here are some examples of her works that involve trees, of course:

New York Trees I

Trees of the U.S.A. III

Paths of Desire

Ghost Forest

Friday, September 11, 2009

A tree falls in Brooklyn

It's a sad day on my block. Some stupid beer truck backed into one of the beloved trees across the street, knocking off a huge tree-sized branch and chunk of the tree. Leaves and branches fell all over, stopping traffic, and then some work men arrived with chain saws to finish the job. Now it is a soggy, sawdusty stump. Though, if you ask George, who works at Mailboxes on 5th (which is the shop the tree used to live in front of) it wasn't the beer truck's fault. The truck has been backing up in that exact location for years and years. But the heavy rain made the branch sag, which made the tree lean, which made the branch sag even lower.

George knows these things. Blame it on the rain.

Actually, I've recently realized that an even more beloved tree is gone. The one that used to live more directly across the street. It must have happened the day my building may-or-may-not-have-been hit by lightning. We heard/felt an extremely loud boom at the same time we saw a flash...and the next thing we knew, we saw branches in the street. I just realized the tree is completely gone. This one makes me even sadder. It was just out front of Happy Cleaners. So pretty. Fluffy white in the spring. We had just one lovely spring together. I'm hoping these trees have become mulch and will help other urban trees to survive and flourish. Here are some photos to mourn our loss. (Pink arrows indicate our fallen friends.)

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Lorax (and his Truffula trees)

I can't believe I haven't posted about this yet. One of the best "tree books" EVER is a children's book. But it's not really a children's book.

I am an enthusiastic, unabashed fan of Dr. Seuss and his work. I don't know what else to say about that. And one of most lovable tree advocates I've ever come across happens to be a little guy straight from the brain of Dr. Seuss...our friend, The Lorax.

Our wonderful little friend, The Lorax, used to live in a Truffula (TRUFF-yoo-la) tree. Truffula trees have silky soft tufts and they come in colors like bright pink, orange, red, and yellow. These are trees you can't help but love. And, of course, they were home to our friend, The Lorax.

But one fateful day, the Truffula trees were discovered by a money-hungry entrepreneur, who chopped one down and made the tufts into something (a "thneed") to sell. And then he chopped another. And another. And then he built a factory, and before long, every single fluffy Truffula tree was gone. The Lorax tried with all his might to stop it from happening..."I am the Lorax! I speak for the trees!"...but to no avail. And all the creatures were displaced, and all the trees were chopped.

The Truffula trees, sadly, are gone, but the story is not without hope. Pick up the book and read the story! the Dr. Seuss movie, based on the book:

If you hang on through (or skip) the credits, you will positively fall in love with the tragic, hypnotic intro song which starts at about the 55 second mark...
"grickle grass...grickle grass...street of the lifted lorax...grickle grass...grickle grass...somebody lifted the lorax away..."

I can't stop singing it.

And now go plant a tree!

Update: if you're having trouble with the video, you can view it here.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Christmas in May June July!

My hard drive died. And a bunch of other things happened. So...let's pretend it's the end of May, or perhaps the first week of June (when I started to write this post)...

I've just returned from a mountain vacation during which we spent some time meandering along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The views are breathtaking on a clear spring day and endless photo opportunities await – either at the designated "lookout areas" or at any particular point if you dare pull over to the side of the sometimes frighteningly narrow mountain road and flash your hazard lights while you jump out to snap a photo of a perfect double rainbow with a mountain backdrop, which is exactly what we did as we were driving through sun showers one particular afternoon.

After a grand time spent in and around Asheville, NC and then a quick stay in Boone, our journey homeward led us through more beautiful mountain roads where we found ourselves pleasantly surprised in the relatively remote region of Ashe County, North Carolina.

There we were, driving through the mountains, when we came around a corner, and passed a Christmas tree farm. Not too unusual...but then another, and another! Ten! Twenty! Thirty! More! Acres and acres of Christmas trees everywhere! It was as if we'd stumbled upon the "Santa's workshop" of Christmas trees. They were on every hill, around every bend, speckling every field. It was joyous and curious. I had to take some photos and then Google the phenomenon when I returned home.

Turns out there is a North Carolina Christmas Tree Association (NCCTA) and their mission is to "promote 'real' Christmas Trees through marketing and education." Hmm. This is a mission I can probably stand behind, though, while idealistic and charming, it seems vaguely wrong and definitely weird. The Fraser fir is the species that all the tree farmers seem to be growing (so that's what you see in my photos) and I learned that North Carolina has an estimated 50 million Fraser firs Christmas trees througout the state. I'm pretty sure we saw 30 million. There are all sorts of interesting Christmas tree facts and info about the Fraser fir at their site, here, like: North Carolina is 2nd in the nation for Christmas tree harvesting; and at least 10 North Carolina trees have graced the White House since 1966.

Who knew there was such a flourishing tree industry in the mountains of North Carolina? You cut your own at many of the farms, or, there's the option to place a wholesale order for trees - if you happen to have a well-trafficked city sidewalk where you'd like to begin selling the "perfect" tree this December.

Here's a screen shot of a search for Christmas tree farms in North Carolina (We drove straight through that upper left corner of the map):