A Year in the Life of a Tree

When we drove down the Colonial Parkway after the December snowstorm, we discovered an incredible level of damage to many old, venerable trees along the way. Nothing saddened us more than finding two of our beloved white poplar trees toppled by the weather, and those still standing broken by the heavy snow.


December 30, 2018


This beautiful circle of five trees delighted us in every season.

All things pass.  We have seen this again and again as storms sweep across the country leaving changed landscapes in their path.

I walked up to the circle to see what had happened to the trees, and wasn’t very surprised to find the cavities where they had been anchored to the earth completely filled with water.  You’ll see the pool that has stood in the circle of these trees for years, in all but the driest times of the year.

We have had so much rain that our ground is saturated. Trees in our own garden have rotted at the base and fallen over in the wind. Too much wet makes most trees vulnerable to damage they might not experience otherwise, and there are trees leaning and broken all over our Williamsburg community.   We may need to look to replacement trees that will perform better in wetter soils.

And until then, we will be grateful for our photos of the majestic beauty that once lived and grew so enthusiastically.  Please join with me in happy memories of seasons passed.


Forest Garden

January 2016January 2016


Along the Colonial Parkway, between Williamsburg and Jamestown, grow a stand of white poplar trees.  They sway gracefully in the wind, like a group of school girls holding hands and dancing.  They mark one of our favorite spots along that part of the Parkway, and we often stop to admire them. 


February 2015February 2015


Now in the depths of winter, with the world newly frozen and still, let’s watch the seasons come and go with these beautiful trees.


March 2015March 2015


March 2015March 2015


April 2015April 2015  An ancient Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis, blooms in the foreground. 


May 2014May 2014


June 2014June 2014


“In a forest of a hundred thousand trees,

no two leaves are alike.

And no two journeys along the same path are alike.”


Paulo Coelho


August 2014August 2014


October 2015October 2015


November 2015November 2015


November 2015November 2015


January 2014January 2014


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About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

5 responses to “A Year in the Life of a Tree

  1. One of the difficulties of my work is prescribing the removal of distinguished old trees. Many are historic. The worst are those that are killed by the gardeners who are supposed to take care of them. (Almost all gardeners dump so much water onto landscapes that it downs and rots the trees.) In the next few weeks, I must remove two old Yoshino flowering cherries at work. They are only about sixty years old, and are not very big, but everyone in the neighborhod loves them!

    • It is always hard to removed beloved trees from the landscape. They become so much a part of our lives, bring joy, and outlive most in the community. A young tree planted as a replacement takes a long time to grow into that legacy. But bless you for doing what must be done. Diseased or badly damaged trees will only cause additional problems. We lost all of the remaining peach trees in our garden last month in that heavy snow and I will miss their spring blossoms. The previous owner planted them but didn’t prune or spray as they were getting established, and they grew in too much summer shade. We enjoyed their flower and shade, but never harvested a single fruit. Now, I can make a better choice of flowering tree for our site to replace them. Nature has given us nearly 100 inches of rain over the last year- but I won’t complain so long as parts of our country are in drought.

      • I will be writing obituaries for the two Yoshino flowering cherry trees like I have for other trees in the region. I will cut them down myself because I do not want anyone else who does not respect them like I do to do it.

        • I’m touched. Too few of us understand the incredible being of trees. It always disturbs me to see them cut down or pruned hard unless the trees are damaged or diseased. Respect for another living creature is the key.

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