I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
- Joyce Kilmer, 1886-1918, Trees
The views of fall foliage are near peak here at the Fairegarden in southeast Tennessee.
There are the trees we planted, only a few years old, and the borrowed views of mature trees from the adjoining neighbors. The opening image is a bird’s eye view, thanks to the 20x zoom on the new camera, the Canon Powershot SX1 IS, of the mature maple of the neighboring property to the south, behind the garage. This is no doubt the twin brother of our deceased Ferngully. Click here if you would like to hear his tale. Above, the seedling Japanese maple, one of three such passalongs from neighbors Mae and Mickey is showing the most brilliant ruby hues this year, in nice contrast to the Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Boulevard’. Behind are the golden maples of our neighbor who borders the eastern edge of our land.
Having evergreens amidst the maples highlights the brighter colors.
The most eye catching area for fall foliage interest is the small woodland at the southeast corner. These plantings are still young and need to grow on. Ferngully II, a freebie red maple stick for joining the Arbor Society in 2000 is the largest, situated directly in front of its rotting predecessor. On the right the sourwood, Oxydendrum arboreum, purchased as a stick from the garden shop at The Biltmore has grown and flowered, the whitish panicles like streamers hanging down. The fiery seedling Japanese maple is to the left.
Out front by the street, on the northwest corner of our lot is the European hearts a bustin’, Euonymous europaeus. A seedling not only shared but planted by neighbor Mickey himself in the spot, complete with a generous bucket of his beautiful compost. The turning leaves and sweet pinky red hearts make this a delightful corner for passersby.
Still out front and walking over to the northeast corner, where the stand of tall Loblolly Pines, Pinus taeda hold court, a Viginia Creeper vine, Parthenocissus quinquefolia shows its fall splendor. It is growing on a crazy wild cherry tree, the one with lichen on the trunk, (so not deserving of the latin lookup) that is growing right next to a wild American Holly, Ilex opaca. Both are up against one of the pines. Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ dried flower heads can be seen at the lower right. I would love to have the cherry taken out, it is crowding the pine and holly and attracts tent caterpillars by the millions every spring.
Turning around, standing in the street, the view up the hill shows the muhly still resplendent, the lawn, and Ferngully’s twin at the top right.
Traveling back up into the garden by the old concrete steps that are all that remains from the house next door that was purchased and demolished to build the garage, we see the happy coincidental planting combination of the newest witch hazel, Hamamelis intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’ now turning a gleaming gold, click here to read the story of how he came to live in the Fairegarden last winter, with the white muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘White Cloud’ looking elegant along with the blue spikes, make that spires of Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’. The white/yellow garden never looked better.
Just to the right of Arnold is the standard trained PeeGee hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’ looking the best it ever has. Click here to read about the hydrangea standards.
Going over to the line of river birches, Betula nigra planted just inside the wooden fence on the western boundary, we see again looking at a borrowed view beyond, this time of mature maple and Chinese Chestnut trees on the vacant lot on the corner, one house over.
Standing in the vestibule at the back door of the main house, the view of the steep slope seems impossible to capture. It is either too much sun, not enough sun, or raining. The three pink dogwoods on the left side of the steps have already lost their leaves. These are younger trees. The trees on the right of the steps were moved to this house from our first Tennessee house when we moved to Texas in 1997. Offspring Chickenpoet and Semi were living in the house while attending the college here. When we moved from Texas to this house in 2000, the four pink dogwoods were dug up by the backhoe and replanted by several of the men working on the renovation of the house to the right slope from where they had been planted along the wooden fence. Now that is the way to move a tree. Three are on the lower slope and one is in the top corner by the boxwood hedge that surrounds the knot garden.
Ten years is not old in tree years. Looking back from the western end of the long wall that runs the width of the main house, up once again to view Ferngully’s twin, he needs a better name, we appreciate the older trees in the neighborhood. Someday in the distant future, the trees we have planted will give someone the same thrill, it is hoped. It won’t be us.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.
~Chinese Proverb (Thanks Autumn Belle!)
As the poet said, “only God can make a tree,”
probably because it’s so hard to figure out
how to get the bark on.
- Woody Allen*