For the love of trees

Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky. ~Kahlil Gibran

I fell in love with these woods 21 years ago when we found the house set within them. After living in a small stone cottage in a charming city neighborhood, I wanted to be surrounded by trees.  Growing up in an era when kids played endlessly in the woods, I spent hours by myself exploring paths, climbing trees, admiring wildflowers, listening to birds. Now I can step outside of my door and walk through the woods at any time of day or night with Pixie by my side. Since we have been walking in the woods so often, we’ve created our own path

and I’ve been learning how to identify the trees along the path by their bark and buds.

The dawn chorus has been lively as the birds prepare to mate and nest. A pair of robins have built a beautiful  and intricate nest on the spiral steps to our upper deck, undeterred by our efforts to encourage them to move elsewhere. We’ll take the inside steps to the deck until the babies fledge.

The garden is waking up and feels magical after such a long winter.

Pixie fearlessly explores the garden; it is surviving.

After working hard last year to eliminate invasive plants on our property and in the garden (an ongoing effort), I spent the winter attending online seminars on native plants, bumblebees, and gardening to support pollinators and wildlife. Even though I garden organically and support birds and pollinators, I’ve decided to step up my game and be more proactive in planting for the creatures around me. So much recent research has revealed in detail and in practical terms the intricate web that connects life on our planet and I continue to see my role as gardener and caretaker of the woods change and evolve.

Trees exhale for us so that we can inhale them to stay alive. Can we ever forget that? Let us love trees with every breath we take until we perish. ~Munia Khan 

Oak trees in budToday is the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day and the 50th anniversary of the Arbor Day Foundation, an organization devoted to planting trees throughout the world. Entomologist Doug Tallamy has changed the way gardeners see trees – his research revealed that native trees supports hundreds of pollinators which in turn support birdlife. What a wonderful day when we found this property filled with oak and hickory and black cherry, some of the best trees for nourishing the world around us.

Enjoy a short video I made of life in the woods and garden this spring, full of bird song, the buzz of pollinators and the beauty of trees.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. ~Herman Hesse

May is Garden for Wildlife Month. Are you planning any projects to support wildlife in your garden this year? This post is part of the #GardenBloggersChallenge sponsored by Gardencomm for the month of May. You are invited to join in and can see more details at gardencomm.org

27 thoughts on “For the love of trees

  1. Ah, beautiful, Lynn. Your video skills are impressive. I loved the snowy moments, the frames with a breeze over the ferns, and the birdsong. Such happy photographs from your garden! It’s great that you’re planning to do all you can for the pollinators. We are constrained to pots in a limited, shady place here at our rented cottage in the trees but maybe I’ll find enough sun for a few herbs for the bees. Happy Spring to you!

  2. We had a robins nest right near our back door. We quickly learned that they were not particularly concerned with our comings and goings. One day I left a handful of worms on the ground below the nest, while the mom robin was on the nest. She watched me. When I had backed away about 10 feet, she hopped down and picked up the worms. I’ve also had robins follow close behind me when I am weeding. They pick up any ‘treats’ I’ve unwittingly unearthed.

    • The robins are adaptable, aren’t they Margy? We have another nest on the light fixture near our front door and they ignore our comings and goings. I’ve had them follow me around the garden like that too, fun! Sometimes they tap on our front door to let me know that I need to refill the birdbath – it’s hilarious and endearing at the same time.

    • Thank you, Eliza. Yes! I’m a huge Tallamy fan – I heard him speak when his first book came out and it changed my perception of gardening forever. I am on the map for Homegrown National Park, not too many in the western PA area. Are you? I’m shooting for that magic 70% native planting – probably already have it in the woods but not so much in the garden. My cold frame and laundry room are full of new native plants right now – big changes coming!

      • Yes, we got ‘on the map’ last year. We live near a river and sadly, many acres are nearly overrun with invasive species. We work on it endlessly. It feels Sisyphean!
        I look forward to seeing how your new plants settle in.

  3. Happily that ‘Last child in the Woods’ was never a reality. Belatedly our modern young people are rediscovering these places of peace, beauty and adventure. In the UK just now it’s the bluebell woods that are attracting attention, and rightly so. Thank you for your delightful video. Look after your precious wood.

    • That is so good to hear, Richard – I’m not so sure that is true here though. So many of our woods are now housing developments void of trees, it is painful to see. On a better note, our young people are more ecologically minded and the pandemic lockdowns pushed them outside to enjoy nature more. Yes, my little wood is so precious to me, I’m trying to be a good steward and build on what is here while sharing that experience with others.

      • I gather William Penn named your state after sylvania =’woodland’. It seems he chose well. A good point to make when campaigning for the preservation of your state’s woodlands. Trees are treasures. We all need them.

      • Absolutely correct, Richard – Penn’s Woods is a common reference to Pennsylvania and we actually still do have a lot of woodlands further away from the cities as well as many state and national parks that preserve the beauty. We live a mile from a 30,000 acre local park which is a treasure as well. Still, there is much to learn in my little acre. 🙂

  4. What a lovely video. I love the sounds of a garden (or woodland) and your birds are very noisy! Such fabulous buzzing of the bees – you are very clever with the camera! As for trees, although I enjoy seeing them in their new dresses I am hopeless at ID – except for the obvious ones like Field Maples and Oaks! Have a happy springtime Lynn.

    • Hello Jude, glad you enjoyed the video. The birds are loud! but wonderful. Once the dawn chorus is over, it is much quieter. It’s taken me a while to ID the trees – when they are leafed out, it is a wall of green here. So looking at the buds on all those bare stems intrigued me – some of what I thought were oaks turned out to be hickories and it was so much easier to see how the different trees fit into the space and how the new seedlings stranded out from the larger trees – fascinating. Enjoy your spring!

  5. Can we infer that spring came late for you this year (as it was three weeks late in central Texas)?

    Some observers of modern American life decry the fact that kids don’t play outdoors as much as they used to; the same observers also decry the decline of free, unstructured play. Do you have any thoughts along those lines?

    Regarding trees, etymology reveals that the English word tree descends from the Indo-European linguistic root dreu-. The original meaning of ‘to be firm, solid, steadfast’ came to be applied in particular to trees and also then things made of wood. Related native English words from that root are trough and tray. We find more-abstract developments of the original Indo-European root in true and trust. Your determination to remain true to trees puts you on firm etymological ground.

    • Steve, yes, spring came early, screeched to a halt, then slowly returned. We are about 2 weeks behind normal but it is starting to settle in to steady bloom.

      I often think of the book “Last Child in the Woods” – it seems that pandemic shutdowns pushed kids outdoors much more plus a renewed interest in gardening. Still, those woods we wandered through as kids are gone to housing developments. The push for native gardening and citizen science is getting some traction on a larger scale. I was at a garden conference on Saturday that was focused on ecological gardening and one of the speakers pointed out that the strongest ecological spots and presence of pollinators and birds are now in cities – in small diverse garden plots and backyards, which is surprising and encouraging.

      I love your etymology regarding trees – it certainly fits with my feelings about them – thank you for your insight. Always a pleasure to have you stop by.

  6. What an absolutely beautiful video…a perfect capture of spring’s magical arrival! And that bird chorus…!😊 l am saving this to enjoy over and over again! Thank you, thank you!

  7. Beautiful thoughts and what a captivating video, Lynn! Goodness, you’re way ahead of us. Spring lost her way here, I think. Hoping she’ll make her very late entrance next week. In the meantime, I’ll return to your beautiful post. Thank you!

    • Thank you, Kitty! I had so much fun making th video. We’ve had bitter cold and frosts here for days, today was the first day I didn’t wear a heavy coat. I hope spring makes her entrance for you soon, it has been a crazy spring everywhere.

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