trees

Posted by Ellen

In 1775,  a Scotch-Irish gentleman named James Stuart planted about a hundred and fifty beech trees to dramatize the driveway leading up to Gracehill, his new estate in County Antrim, in the far north of Northern Ireland. 

Over the years, the trees have grown together over the road, creating the Dark Hedges, an often-photographed tree-tunnel landscape recently featured in the HBO series Game of Thrones. The eighteenth-century driveway is now a public street, Brogagh Road; what's left of the Gracehill estate is now an eighteen-hole golf course. The Stuarts mostly emigrated to Canada.

James Pion, a wedding photographer from Gainesville, Florida, caught this early-morning view.

Posted by Ellen

Conceded: the sun was already below the horizon when it did all this to the sky the other day. Say it set ten or fifteen minutes earlier, around 5:30 PM.

5:30's not bad. Really. We don't have to pay any attention to that groundhog behind the curtain: spring is coming.

Still have to wear a coat, though.. . .

Posted by Ellen

Thanks to the work of this volunteer and many hundreds of others, Philadelphia got 850 new street trees on Saturday, bringing the overall regional total of trees planted to–according to the calculations of somebody or other, as of Saturday night–exactly 262,236.

The goal is a million new trees, in hopes of restoring the forest canopy area heareabouts to 30%, which would provide enough shade to significantly mitigate the urban heat-island effect and would improve air and water quality, reduce erosion and water pollution, and lessen the frequency and severity of flooding.

The tree roots at bottom right in this photo belong to a variety of maple tree that is particularly hardy in urban settings and has a growth habit suitable for its new home in the urban jungle on South 21st Street, in front of a dentist's office and across the street from a dry cleaner's.

Posted by Ellen

Trees from above, waiting for the sun.

Posted by Ellen

When you get a day in November that's t-shirt warm, it just seems right to get up on the roof. There were drainspouts to clear and trees to trim, debris to sweep up and . . . pictures to take.

Today's rooftop picture features our neighbors Carolyn and Frank; Carolyn works the pole trimmer while Frank hooks a finger in her beltloop to keep her safe.

Looking into the treetops, it became obvious that this year's fall weather has mostly been so mild that the leaves are only just now beginning to behave fallishly. But we trimmed the trees back so far that almost all the remaining leaves will eventually drop on the street or the sidewalk, not on top of the houses.

Posted by Ellen

Among the finalists for this year's National Geographic photo competition is this shot of a baobab grove near the town of Morondava in western Madagascar. 

Baobabs are unusual trees, with swollen trunks that store water, allowing them to survive long periods of drought. Some species of baobab can grow without soil, drilling their roots directly into bare limestone, and some are so tolerant of salt water they can grow within a few feet of the ocean. 

The trees in this picture are believed to be many thousands of years old, but baobab wood does not produce annual growth rings, making age calculations rather speculative. 

Baobabs produce fruit with a flavor that is described as very tart and grapefruit-like. The fruit pulp is a common ingredient in many regional dishes and is being studied by international food companies as a possible additive to Western-style foods and beverages, such as fruit smoothies. "It brings an interesting and exotic flavor," said PhytoTrade spokesperson Lucy Welford. "Now that we've had a lot of interest in Europe, I think there might be a knock-on effect in the U.S."

Posted by Ellen

At least two ornamental cherry trees in our neighborhood have broken out in blooms this month, somehow mistaking November for April. As should be evident in this scene on Lombard Street, all the other trees have a much better grip on seasonal propriety.