Seizing the late afternoon December light, we ventured into East Park and strolled along the Boxers’ Trail. Facing westerly and located on a bluff above the Schuylkill, this is a great place to experience the sun set. We caught the shadows of the leaves of this young Oak cast upon this Ash Tree.
We noticed an abundance of Ash trees and it dawned on us that there will be changes to the trail when the Ash borer comes through and these trees are killed. There are plenty of red oaks in the area, perhaps they will gain an advantage, as well as the tulip poplars. The loss of the ashes may provide better views of the river for the historic Fairmount Park houses situated on the bluff, as well as for the trail users, to look on the bright side. It will be interesting to see what grows in their place. Perhaps more Ashes!
To have so many trees lost all at once could result in problems, especially on this steep terrain, from erosion to unsightly holes in the forest canopy.
Looking up, there are a lot of Ashes filling in the canopy!
Nice walk to experience the landscape and orient ourselves.
This late December light on a Holiday had us out and about. As the sun set on the city more and more spots along the way fell into the shadows of the young winter’s evening. Lemon Hill Mansion, situated on one the very last bluffs of the piedmont, overlooking the Schuylkill River was still bathed in the last minutes of the holiday’s sun and we visited for these last moments.
On the grounds of this historic house, we noticed the most majestic of Ash trees, glowing orange.
This specimen, the most stunning of Ash trees, had the most impressionable shape and form. It leaned away from the house, lending an air of protection to the building and its size and position adding to the history and atmosphere of the place. Today was quiet and wintery, stark and bare-bones. But this tree has most likely had many days where it has provided shade and helped cool the spacious porches of the house. And sadly enough, it may well be reaching the end of its days as the blight looms closer and closer. The Emerald Ash borer threatens this tree and is coming closer and closer. The City’s Forestry division is monitoring this problem closely and has implemented a plan to address the invasion. Many trees close to trails and buildings may have to be cut down and some trees will be treated an monitored.
The bark on this tree is exquisite, the deeply furrowed bark, with a diamond pattern is textbook. There is a movement about the bark: it is winding up the tree and enveloping the trunk at a pace frozen in our observance and perception.
We have never seen the mature bark of an American Chestnut (Castenea dentata) and perhaps never will. Now it is looking like we may be the last to see the mature bark of the Ashes. If you are afforded the opportunity to see some Ash trees take a look for yourselves!
We nominate the grand Ashes near Lemon hill to be treated against the Emerald Ash Borer and we are keeping our eye out for ones elsewhere in the city to be treated as well. Maybe alongside the majestic ones a few or more healthy young trees across the city could get into the treatment program? If you know of an Ash tree in the City of Philadelphia that is worthy of saving please pass along this information!
Will the Ashes become the next Chestnuts?
In silhouette, their magnificence is especially striking.
Today, walking along the River just downriver from the Pumping station, there was plenty to see! Plant life was everywhere in its winter attire creating silhouettes upon the grey December sky.
The open fields, mowed and manicured, create a great space for the display of trees. Here they can grow unrestricted, showing off their ubiquitous forms to the world. Here is our classroom for the field lesson on the form of trees. Getting to know and becoming familiarized with the the shapes of various trees is rewarding. One tree after the other, we learn the language of the trees, for they all have such unique shapes and growth patterns, it becomes a really fun readable landscape.
The Tulip Poplar, a fast growing very straight trunked tree, and very common in Fairmount Park. In this picture we are looking at the seedpod, here most of the seeds have been expelled. And here it is in its form, The Tulip Poplar naturally reaches outward and upwards. However in the forest setting this tree is more narrow.
Below, a Sycamore is growing out of the 19th century drainage infrastructure. The pumping station is in the backround. Above, an Ash tree. A row of Plane trees in the back-round. And Below the Ash tree’s distinctive deeply furrowed bark.
A Sycamore in Silhouette, here we see a common pose, at an angle, often over a river or creek, but here, just over the grass. How about that distinctive gloomy winter sky?
The Sugar Maple. Below the trunk with its peeling bark.
Below, the White Pine. A Silver Maple with the back drop of the Philadelphia Skyline. Below another Silver Maple, this grand specimen festooned with the invasive Asiatic bittersweet Vine.
So there we have it, a few distinctive trees to enjoy on this fine December Day along the Schuylkill River. There was a Red Maple blooming, but no pictures. It was so nice to get outside and look at the trees, this is the season for seeing trees as their forms.
We don’t have this opportunity in the summer, and to get out and try to identify and appreciate them is rewarding and a great reason to go outside and look at things when the weather is cold and often dismal.
…..So dear readers, this week marks our fourth year of the Sanguine Root! 4 years and we are still blogging away! Keeping a blog is a lot of work, and making posts needs to be as easy as possible so we can focus on the content, but this is not always easy to do. We applaud all bloggers out there who can keep them going. We thank our readers for their comments and commitment to reading our material, and many of you are our friends and comrades. The Sanguine Root has brought us many adventures and made us many friends. We have learned much in the realm of our blog. We have posted about native Garlic mustard growing in the south of France from an outdoor balcony in the southern French City of Rodez using wifi found in the City air and then at another time finding ourselves in vast swamps in Georgia and Florida writing down the names of tiny blooming flowers and uploading their beautiful images at the nearest sign of the internet. Long hard days in Morris Park, Philadelphia removing invasive plant material documented in bag counts or perspective. Even on a remote roadside in Western Massachusetts, we have posted about gorgeous red berries growing on native shrubs in the most ignored ditches. Our adventures and explorations have opened us up to the world and its wide open spaces and the glorious green growing things that we so much love to write about hopefully in the most uplifting and flowery of prose possible!
We have found that travel has helped us gain a perspective on the environment and its stewardship and have integrated this throughout our posts and philosophy.
We encourage everyone to share their own experiences publicly, whether it is about plants, the weather, rocks, waterways, their commute to work, etc, and bring to the world something that is ground down to its core importance and displayed like a Christmas tree for all of the world to enjoy.
This year our posts have not been as frequent as we have been focusing our free time on concerns regarding the rehabilitation of Viola Street in West Philadelphia, helping to stabilize this beautiful block of Victorian rowhouses.
Its been a great 4 years and thank you for all of you who have stayed with us and do look forward to more fresh material!
Upcoming we have a time -lapse showpiece that we are working on right now, a camera taking a picture of the forest in Morris Park every hour and a half and has been since early September, this should make for an interesting video!