Trees in Winter Glory

What would it be like if we lived without trees? The air we breath would not be as clean, the majesty and beauty of their being, gone. Just think, as one tree has the ability to provide clean, fresh oxygen for ten people in the span of one year, they also scrub pollutants from the air that we breathe.

In fact, the snow you see in my images also cleans the air of particulates as it falls, so even when the leaves are gone in winter, nature still is working for us.

Trees cool the environment and they conserve energy by providing shade. They create energy and warmth by burning as a renewable resource; of course if it is managed that way. So they have us covered in all four seasons.

Trees reduce noise pollution by proper placement and selection.  They do a great service by reducing soil erosion which is another precious natural commodity.

Trees increase our property values if selected wisely and have a rather large monetary value if destroyed. If you want to see how much, see my post here.

They provide food in many ways, including nuts and fruit as the most obvious. Of course we utilize them for building materials to shelter our families.

We turn them into pulp for paper, and find medicinal value for our health and well-being. We use them to create beautiful objects for our home.

Since I showed some burl inlays above in my TV cabinet, here are some images of how it may develop in a tree.


In this case, the burl resulted as scar tissue covering an injury of loss of limb most likely, but also notice the nail in the summer photo, below. It could have resulted from the nail as this tree has two burls, both with nails in the center. A burl like this one will have no commercial value and seldom does because the bulge created will not have the burl figure grain. The shape of the burl is often hollowed.

So in conclusion, that is just a small portion of what trees do for us.

For other creatures much is the same in regards to shelter, food and oxygen.

This large hornets nest is in a rather small pear tree on a busy city street. Nature has had to adapt to our rapid development.

They provide habitat for other plants and fungus as well.

The mighty tree is one of the necessities of life.

I am quite sure you can find other ways that trees service humanity, but what do we do for them?

Many experts feel trees are in peril, one of which is clear cutting for our expanding urbanization. The value of trees is undeniable and clear cutting should not be an answer for development.

Other ways trees face demise is through disease and insect damage like the Emerald Ash Borer ravaging whole states of native ash trees. The image below is found at Emerald Ash Borer Info. This insect has found its way to counties surrounding Niagara and I have loads of information on it from Cornell Cooperative Extension, but we can save that for another post, but here is a taste.

Just fathom, over 50 Million ash trees have been destroyed since it was first identified in Michigan in the summer 2002. Seven percent of all trees in New York State are ash, and it is spreading here county-by-county.  This pest has spread to 13 states and counting. Want to know if your state is one?

So yes folks, trees are in danger. And this is only one way of many.

Frederick Law Olmsted understood that we must be in the presence of trees to appreciate them. He used trees with abandon in Niagara Falls State Park.  Many of the trees are original natives and live in the most precarious of situations. The image below is a tree hanging on at the brink of the Falls. The drop is only about a hundred yards away.

The bag worm infested trees from summer are growing right on a little rock plateau in the middle of the upper rapids.

So what can we do for them? We can donate. We can plant. We can preserve. And we can promote. Our very existence is dependent on the survival and conservation of trees.

Wilderness Society

Arbor Day Foundation

Did you know that Arbor Day is different in each state?

Each state’s Arbor Day celebration date initiates the signing of an Arbor Day proclamation by local officials. Activities on each Arbor Day revolves around the trees and tree planting.

Celebrations are held as early as January and February in some southern states and as late as May in areas to the North. What it coincides with is the time that weather generally allows for tree digging and planting, although many trees can be planted throughout the year.

Florida and Louisiana have Arbor Day first on the third Friday of January.

Pennsylvania and New York have Arbor Day the last Friday in April. National Arbor Day is observed on the last Friday in April.

To finish off the year, South Carolina has Arbor Day the first Friday in December.

Do you know your state tree? New York is the Sugar Maple and Pennsylvania is the Eastern Hemlock.  If you want to know when your Arbor Day occurs and what your state tree is, go here.

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn. Ralph Waldo Emerson

For additional information on Trees see Carolyn’s Shade Garden’s post My Thanksgiving Oak Forest. It goes pretty well with Emerson’s quote.

I want to invite you to see a new blog I am authoring with a friend of mine. It explores both interior and exterior design and is a place where I can do illustration and photography to relate it to design of both gardens and interiors. If you enjoy the inside of your home as much as you love the outside, have a look. Loads of images and pops of color.

Posts include: Is Blue You and Cardinal Fest.

Please stop in at to see Green Apples. It is not yet approved by Blotanical, so go to www.greenapplesgarden.com. Thank you.

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About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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48 Responses to Trees in Winter Glory

  1. Gorgeous wintery photographs Donna, and fabulous burls too! It is amazing how many threats there are to native trees, all across the country, from pollution, diseases, and shifts in climate. Our own oaks and madrones seem to be dying at an alarming rate in recent years, but we’re trying to replant what we can. I had no idea that Arbor Day was on a different date in each state…learn something every day! Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

    • Thank you so much for adding to the talk on trees. I did read your madrone post and others should too. I think more should be aware of what has been happening as of late to trees. Cornell and others have been investigating and not finding enough answers to the many questions. It is reminding me of the bee saga. I was happy to see more bees this year in the garden, but they are nowhere out of the woods as of yet. Sorry about the tree pun.

  2. Donna says:

    nice post…if we don’t speak for the trees who will…

  3. This post is as mighty as a tree! What an amazing quantity of great photos, thanks for taking the time to put it together. It’s too bad the ash borer is such a pretty green, it gives me a harder time disliking it. Ash trees are associated with morel hunting where I live and I’d hate to lose them.

    I think I want to snuggle that squirrel photo! So cute. 🙂

    • I could have put the larvae in the post, but I think that would have actually repulsed viewers. Seeing them makes me squeamish.

      Is it not amazing how much depends on everything else. How we are all connected in some way. We even learned this in architecture school believe it or not. I first learned the magnitude and importance in biology classes, but it was brought up again in sustainability classes. How our designs affect and impact other creatures, the environment and even human interactions and actions.

  4. Ginny says:

    I agree with Eliza that this post is as mighty as a tree! A subject very dear to my heart and you have covered it beautifully and thoroughly.

    • Thank you Ginny. I love trees and have always felt a kinship to them. Like Olmsted, I use and preserve as many trees as I am able in my work. I never had a park to design, but I have had the privilege of working on sizable commercial projects. Some maintained wooded areas and worked with existing trees to site the building. Others maintained wetlands and reclaimed brown sites.

  5. How stately your snowy trees are! Thanks for reminding us to take care of our beautiful trees. I’m looking forward, too, to popping over to Green Apples!

    • Thanks Elizabeth. The trees at the Falls are incredible in winter. I will be getting there again soon hopefully. They are best seen late on a sunny day with the ice crystals glistening. It is magical. Also after a light snow fall. What the mist of the falls does to the snow and ice is like nature painting a masterpiece. But I have to brave wet winds and very slippery terrain as it is never a picnic at the Falls in winter, weatherwise.

  6. Tatyana says:

    Oh, how beautiful! Great gallery of images! Love them all, but the one above the squirrel touched me the most!

  7. Actually, the fact that squirrels make their homes in trees is a strike against them. I hate squirrels. Better in a tree than in my roof, I guess. Hooray for trees!

  8. Very educational and beautifully photographed post. I am a big fan of trees and can’t understand how people can destroy, without much thought, something that has often been on this planet longer than they have. For more info on native plants, especially trees, and what they contribute to the environment, you might want to link to my Thanksgiving post. Maybe we can get more fans for Doug Tallamy’s book. Carolyn

  9. One says:

    Love your photos of the trees. I love trees, with or without leaves. Your photos definitely bring out the beauty in them.

    I am just thinking out loud. Are borers necessarily bad? Could they be destroying those trees which are weak and assist in breaking them down? I have a dead ficus tree with lots of holes in it. I was thinking that something is assisting in disintegrating the tree. Otherwise, the trunk will be there forever. But of course, having lots of trees dead at the same time is another thing.

    Sun rays are coming your way.

    • These borers are bad because they are wiping out entire stands of healthy trees and decimating native forests. New York State is in fear of losing 7 percent of the native ash trees in the state. I do understand natural selection and a natural order of things, but when it happens at an alarming rate, scientists look first at what may have initiated the outbreak. Often it is something humans have done to set the wheels in motion. Cornell is working very hard at trying to stop it here and save trees, in addition to what precipitated the outbreak and was not curtailed naturally.

  10. Missy says:

    Your post reminds me of the Joyce Kilmer poem – I think that I shall never see
    a poem lovely as a tree.
    Beautiful photography and important message – not just in the U.S. but world-wide.

    • That was my favorite poem as a kid. I almost posted it, but thought it may be a bit too well known. I know other countries have forest lost too. And so many explanations, but none completely definitive. Just like the bee saga I mentioned above. It is how fast these declines are happening that is most alarming. In the span of ten years this insect has hit 13 states. With no solution yet. So sad.

  11. Cat says:

    Well thought out and well written Donna…too many don’t think of the value of a tree as they take them out…and your images are outstanding. Stopped by Green Apples Garden too – am looking forward to following you there in 2011!

  12. fer says:

    Beautiful post on trees! and stunning photos.
    Help nature, plant a tree

  13. Wonderful post Donna. I love trees for themselves anyway, but they are so essential to the well-being of our planet and provide so much to the artist, craftsman, engineer, not to mention the wildlife. Happy New Year!

  14. One of my favorite Charlie Brown specials is “It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown”. It’s surprisingly informative, and of course, it’s amazing when Charlie Brown’s baseball field gets converted into a vegetable garden shortly before a game with Peppermint Patty. Awesome.

  15. Marguerite says:

    Fantastic post on trees. It seems there are more and more pests/diseases contributing to their demise – or is it just me? ash borer, pine beetle, dutch elm disease, anthracnose. It appears there are so many in jeopardy, many of them native. and yet people are so addicted to their lawns.

  16. Alice Joyce says:

    All warmest wishes for 2011….
    Love the images in this inspiring post!

  17. I forgot to mention that I am so terrified of the emerald ash borer that I try not to think about it. We have several giant ash trees over 100 years old, and the borer is moving county by county across Pennsylvania towards us. I see nothing to stop it.

    • You can have them injected, but so far they are finding that to just slow down the demise. Some have been saved according to our Extension officer, but not enough to warrant the cost of full scale injecting.

  18. beautiful photos Donna and a well written thought provoking post, I love trees and have planted them around my garden but the island being moorland doesn’t have trees, some of mine have grown some haven’t because of the salt winds,
    happy new year and all best wishes for 2011, Frances

    • Thank you Frances. Some trees are better than others as being more salt tolerant, same with the winds. I did not know about the moorland and the lack of trees. I will have to research it. You have my curiosity up. Thanks for having me learn something new today.

      • I don’t know a lot about moorland, in many parts of the uk it is managed for grouse shooting but not here on Lewis, the soil is mostly peat, sphagnum moss and heath/heather the most common plants, some areas have been burnt to encourage more grass for sheep but with the decline in sheep this is rarely done now, the moor is full of ground nesting bird life and plants that do not thrive in any other conditions, the moor at the back of my house is protceted by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and I believe there is a European protection order on it too,
        when I moved here trees was one of the things I expected to miss most but I have not missed them as much as I thought I would, there is a small wood in the Lews castle grounds in town which I sometimes go for a walk in and I have a small group of lodge pole pines in my garden planted by the previous owners, the smell of them reminds me of happy camping in Canada and the USA :o),
        my pleasure has been discovering birds and plants I had only heard of or never even knew about before,
        on a green note the peat is a carbon sink so digging it releases more carbon into the air, I hope you don’t mind my saying all this on your blog if so delete :o)
        happy new year, Frances
        p.s. one of the things I love about blogging is seeing and learning about other landscapes I never knew of before,

        • Thank you so much for the information. I did look into it and your information is so much better from a personal experience level. How you have enjoyed it despite the limitations, like digging releases carbon. It is similar to the wetlands here in protection and specialized wildlife.

          I almost purchased a property adjacent to wetlands myself following my work on design of an interpretive center for learning on one huge wetland/ Niagara River property. My husband refused to live there, so we did not move unfortunately. Planting trees would have been a limitation there too. But the other beauties and interests would have sufficed. Seeing all the ducks would have been heavenly.

          The lodgepole pines are beautiful. I love the form and stature of them. You are lucky to have them planted on your property.

          Thanks again. Maybe we should write posts on both the moorland and wetland plants and wildlife. It would be a great joint post and I bet others would find our experiences with them interesting, your living on one and mine a year long project designing for one.

  19. Excellent and beautiful post Donna! The importance of trees is immeasurable, for there are countless reasons why we need them . . . as you so perfectly illustrate . . . the planet’s lungs, beauty and connection to the soul and all the other wonderful examples you offer. They are home. Thank you honoring and raising consciousness for trees. Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

    • I think trees are the main reason I liked the movie Avatar. The inhabitants saw the need and value of nature for its interconnectedness of all beings. And trees were sacred. Would this philosophy not be a grand way of life?

  20. Incredible post & photographs! I agree that trees are undervalued by the average homeowner and developers don’t even given them a second thought. Very tragic! I had no idea that Arbor Day was on a different day in each state. That is crazy! I have it marked on my calendar for Georgia and I am going to do a special Arbor Day lesson with my 3rd graders for Junior Master Gardeners. I took a look at Greenapplesgarden and I am very excited about reading more. I love the idea of decorating indoors by bringing nature inside. All the best wishes for the new year.

    • I never knew it either at first either because I lived in two states having it celebrated on the National day. I saw it sometime two years ago when I read another state had Arbor Day festivities later in the year. I thought, ‘how odd, what did they do, forget the holiday’? Then saw another community a month later. Then the light bulb went off. I realized this had to be by some community doctrine and looked it up. And, lo and behold, states had their own in addition to the National day.

      I think it is great you are going to have the kids learn from Arbor Day. Contact the Arbor Day site and see if they can help you. I bet they have much to offer for the children, because starting them at this age gives them a life long appreciation. I remember as a kid in Brownies, raising and then planting tiny little pines in PA. That experience stuck with me all these years. Maybe the school would let you have a planting ceremony. So, many ideas to enrich the kids lives.

      Thanks for stopping in at Green Apples. I am thinking a once a week post there highlighting some aspect of design connecting the inside and outside of the home. Materials, textures, fragrance of plantings, how to create vistas to view, so much. There always has been a bit of a void in this area. Interior designers seem to think only inside and landscape architects think predominately outside. Since they are often the consultants on a project, they concentrate on their aspect of design.

      Architects long ago did not work with specialized consultants and did all these aspects of the project themselves. There was, I think, better continuity of design and a better flow of the project as a result. Look at older properties and you can readily feel this.

      I think I was born in the wrong era. I should have been practicing well over one hundred years ago, but as a woman, this would have been unlikely. I have differing sensibilities of design. My art training has also helped me think in this fashion and relate to the practice of architecture so many years back. Much architecture has lost the artistry of design and craftsmanship of construction. Not all, but most.

  21. Laurrie says:

    Great post! Planting trees made me a gardener. All the stuff about flowers and borders and blooms came later, I started with a project to reforest a stripped hillside. Although I have branched out (ha!) and now maintain lots of shrubs and herbaceous plants in my gardens, I am still fascinated with the way a small forest grows and how ornamental trees enhance a garden. This post spoke to me. Happy New Year.

    • I am glad to hear of your garden conversion and baptism was because of trees. They do have that effect. There seems to be some inherent part of our psyche connected with trees. Maybe way back when our ancestors were swinging from them and lived in them. 😀

      I liked your pun. I bet, like me you wrote if first, then realized what you typed.

  22. Dear Donna, aside from all the very good information, you’ve captured the wonder of trees and all they stand for! They look so impregnable so how is diseases fell them without much resistance. (the UK skyline lost its beloved and ancient Elms this way).

    Trees are supposed to have more protection from humans with preservation orders, by-laws for permission to cut them etc but then the London Councils employ tree surgeons butchers who randomly chainsaw summer growth.

    I’m not a complete tree luvvie though as at times I look with almost hate the several sycamores that shade out the garden – case of wrong tree in wrong place but they seed themselves so easily.

    Happy New Year Donna – and by the way how do you manage to do so much with your time? Answer, you wear a different hat! Will pop by your co-blog

    Laura x

    • Laura, Thanks for the thoughtful remarks on trees. I agree there are tree specialists that should be nowhere near a tree.

      As per the time, I do work pretty much all day and since my office is at home, it is much easier to do all that needs to be done. Plus, by December, all the commercial work is complete, so bidding and design does not start up until the third week in January usually. That is a pretty good break, so that is how I get into the Christmas decorating for clients and wreath making for my friend’s business. I try not to take architectural jobs at this time of year, but have on occasion, like bedroom/bathroom suites and kitchens. Sometimes the client is the reason I will work over Christmas. It is always someone I have done work for previously.

  23. Donna, I really enjoyed this thoughtful, beautiful post. I just received my annual letter from the Arbor Day Foundation. We all do need to take some time to understand our tree situation. Thank you for bringing it to our attention but mostly, thank you for sharing such gorgeous photos! Happy New Year;-)

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