Beware of treated trees

It’s a New Year, so what better way to celebrate the 19th edition of the Festival of the Trees than by looking back on the trees that were. Marja-Leena offered an arboreal version of the year in review by posting the trees of her year. In a similarly retrospective vein, Granny J shared images of dead and dying cottonwood trees, and sarala touched on another kind of arboreal loss in a review of John Vaillant’s The Golden Spruce focusing on the tragedy of North American deforestation.

Tire swings

While we’re on the topic of deforestation, Kilroy has moving (as in video!) proof of how professionals topple trees without destroying nearby buildings (or crushing nearby video-bloggers). And if loggers are going to fell trees to make paper anyway, Julie Dunlap reviews a handful of books about trees that belong on any tree-hugger’s shelf.

Trees felled by age, storms, and even foresters’ axes are one thing…ornamental trees attacked by college students are another. Here in New England, December, 2007 began with news of an arboreal hate crime masquerading as a college prank. You’d think that in the typically tree-hugging People’s Republic of Cambridge, Massachusetts, college kids would be more “green”…but apparently Ivy League pranksters have no particular fondness for Japanese maples and crabapples.

An article from the Boston Globe suggests, though, that it may be unnecessary to be kind to individual trees in an age where we can genetically design their replacements. O brave new world, that has such trees in’t!.

Picture perfect trees

Birch bark

Poised on the cusp of several seasons, December was an image-rich month for trees in the blogosphere. Fotokew shared an image of lingering autumn leaves, Anthony McCune shared the secret (or perhaps we should say squirrelly) lives of trees, and Arboreality shared images of snow while educating us about the annual phenomenon of leaf marcescence in oak trees.

Dr. Omed’s Tent Show Revival continues to be a source of inspired images, first a pair of pictures showing burr oak parts (the second of them looking enough like a Buddhist mudra as to make for an apt arboreal altar icon), and next a series of Tulsa trees toppled by an ice storm. Wandering Around Kansas also illustrated the effects of ice storms on trees, and CBS News featured video on efforts to save the “Survivor Tree”–a nearly century-old elm that survived the Oklahoma City bombing–from similar ice damage.

Ivy on evergreen

Elsewhere in the December blogosphere, 3rd House Journal shared pictures of New England birches while Jean Morris featured the same species across the pond; Jean also blogged a photo-mosaic showing a tree’s twiggy complexity. Similarly breath-taking (or breath-inspiring?) are FrizzyLogic‘s images of solstice tree moments, and Kim Nixon shared a similarly lovely moment in mist woods. Trees serve as the literal backdrop of several closeup images of bracket fungus appearing on A Passion for Nature.

In the category of “trees over time,” A. Decker blogged a series of images showing the many moods of two trees. Through the deft wielding of an artist’s pencil, Ester shares the shaded nuances of a couple of bonsai trees. Urban Extension featured a trio of tree posts: two about otters and oaks, and a third about an ancient walnut.

Festive trees


December is a bittersweet time for trees. Denuded of fall foliage, deciduous trees here in the Northern Hemisphere are no longer the focus of visual attention; featured in holiday celebrations, evergreens typically have to die to become decorative. QAZSE laments the violence inherent in the Christmas tree harvest, and other bloggers suggest more eco-friendly alternatives. Here in New England, the village of Waban features a live evergreen as its Festive Holiday Tree…and Universal Hub posted an image I’d snapped of this same tree reflected in a puddle of snowmelt.

Elsewhere, bloggers snapped images of other creative re-interpretations of the traditional Tannenbaum. The Jersey Exile, for instance, shared an image of a Gloucester Christmas tree made from lobster traps while Blaugustine posted two pictures of a live urban tree bedecked by sunlight for the holidays. (I can’t seem to permalink directly to Blaugustine’s two relevant posts, so you’ll need to scroll down…or click here and here for pictures alone).

Evergreen mortality notwithstanding, Jim Hession shared the frustration (shared by many of us) of erecting the perfect Christmas tree. And when it comes to perfect Christmas trees, GrrlScientist posted proof that New York City’s Lincoln Center Christmas tree might take the prize, at least by night.

Poetic trees

Two tree cavities

In the realm of poetry, Dave shared translations of five tree poems from Renaissance Spain, which struck me as being both tree- and mother-centered. Apparently if you Love Your Mother (whether she be Mother Earth, the Virgin Mary, or dear old Mom), loving trees is a natural corollary (a lesson lost on certain Ivy League pranksters?) Kim Nixon compared the hurt of poems not making the cut to the woodpile left in a tornado’s aftermath. 3rd House Journal illustrated in words and pictures the connections between trees and neural networks. And Beloved Dreamer shared the sense of loss and longing evoked by a memorial wreath fading at a crossroads: even evergreens eventually point to mortality.

Mythic trees

Plastic flowers

There are real trees, there are trees in our dreams, and then there are trees that take root in both worlds. Karen Dowell shared the rich folkloric history of the rowan tree, also known as mountain ash or caorunn. Terry* featured an article by Nalini M. Nadkarni on unsung arboreal heroes. Pat Doyle explored the Feng Shui connection between trees and spiritual healing. Artistic Journeys has featured an ongoing re-vision of the traditional Tarot deck, many of the cards depicting trees such as this image of strength.

In the realm of American history, EHT of the American Presidents Blog shares the story of Presidential trees…and the connection between Presidents and trees goes far deeper than that legend about George Washington and an ill-fated cherry tree. And blogging from Malaysia, Lye Tuck-Po recounts the transformative experience of entering a rain forest for the first time. In the natural world, the mythic one, and the histories that transpire in between, trees loom larger than life. That’s a lesson we can carry from any year into the next.

The February, 2008 festival of the trees will be hosted at Ginkgo Dreams. Please send any and all tree-related links to kelly (at) ginkgodreams (dot) com with “Festival of the Trees” in the subject line, or use the automated submission form. The deadline for February submissions is January 29.