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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rosemont Cercis


This redbud (Cercis canadensis) in the Rosemont Burial Ground is certainly one of the oldest I've ever seen. I'm not actually sure it's a tree of outstanding age. I've been told the Cercis can take on an ancient look in only a few decades. Here is another view.


The Rosemont Burial Ground dates back to the eighteenth century, though exactly how old it is is a mystery too. The words on the oldest slate stones have been entirely erased.


The trunk, I've noted before, is about three feet in diameter. The largest limbs present an image of sinuous power that suggests in form and motion the coils of the sea serpents in the Laocoon. I may be stretching this analogy a bit, but more than once an old, twisted Cercis has brought this sculpture to my mind. (Which may say more about my own subconscious than anything else.)


Though the emotions evoked by the two images are very different (the tree is not a figure of tragic suffering, but of survival, of the ability to endure), both share in a sense of awe.

The image below, with the uplifted branches against the sky, is an entirely different matter.


The tree still flowers profusely and, had I been able to visit it last Monday when the temperature rose into the upper 80s, I'm sure it would have been abuzz with thousands of bees as in years past.




19 comments:

  1. Wonderful tree, which I was very impressed !
    In Lithuania, these trees are still rare, because they are susceptible to cold. But I'll try to get it for cultivation.

    Aukse

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  2. The largest redbud I've ever seen! Thank you for sharing it!

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    1. I remember quite large specimens from my childhood in Mississippi, where they grow larger than in the north. But this one is certainly outstanding.

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  3. That is the most interesting Redbud I have ever seen and we have a lot of them here in North Florida. It's stunning!

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    1. Thanks for commenting. Isn't it hopeful that something special like an unusual tree can, in a way, bring people together?

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  4. I'm working on a project where we may possibly plant 300,000 redbuds. We've been doing a lot of research on them and apparently their lifespan is typically 20-30 years. I'm sure some may get older, but it's really rare for them to last more than 50 years. As old as that tree looks, it may be, as you say relatively young.

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    1. Thomas, you've certainly caught my interest. What kind of project could involve planting 300,000 redbuds? And thanks for the factual information. It's helpful to know they're generally such short-lived trees. Also to know how easily we "mis" interpret their appearance. Very interesting.

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  5. Both are powerful, both are sinuous.

    It's interesting that it's not unusual for trees to be particularly successful in cemetries, perhaps there's an obvious reason for that? Perhaps not?

    Anyway, that tree definitely warrants a preservation order.

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    1. Rob, at least in the US, cemeteries were the first parks. Trees in cemeteries, if not given special care, at least are isolated and given plenty of space and light. I believe it's quite common to find horticultural "prizes," such as old roses, as one example, there.

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  6. Even if it isn't, you should think of this tree as ancient and planted by a grieving loved one. There is a similarly sized one in my neighborhood planted in front of a rather unteresting in-fill house or replacement house. The one in Rosemont is much more beautiful because of its setting.

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    1. Les, I should have waited another week. It's blossoms have opened even more now, and the color is much more intense. I'll keep my imaginings about the "ancient" tree.

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  7. Wow, what a specimen. That, by several orders of magnitude, is the largest redbud I've ever seen. I've seen the biggest pecan tree in Tennessee, the world's largest spruce(here in WA), giant redwoods, and some of the biggest live oaks around(Long Beach's Friendship Oak at Gulf Park College and, in Biloxi, the Patriarch oak in Mary Mahoney's Restaurant courtyard). I apparently like big trees!

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    1. Allan, too bad you never got to Brooklyn. The mulberry that fell in our backyared (gift of Irene) may have been one of the largest on the east coast, according to the arborist at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

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  8. Beautiful...I just love trees that are contorted like that...it just speaks of age and character.

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    1. Scott, yes, it has extraordinary character. Makes you want to know its story.

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Nance.

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  10. I love that you saw the similarity with the Laocoon; I often cross reference too! It is interesting how when certain images become a part of your mental library, they come out in unexpected places. I studied Art History before horticulture and find I'm often comparing and contrasting from these two 'disciplines'.
    I have a young Redbud in my front garden but alas, it shows no flowers in this its third year with me. Perhaps its too cold for it to bloom here in our Zone 5. That specimen is glorious!

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    1. Ailsa,
      You can find an even more powerful resemblance in my post on a Judas tree (Cercis siliquastrum) in Rome (http://www.federaltwist.blogspot.com/2012/03/judas-tree.html). I studied Lessing's Laocoon in German literature in college, but it wasn't until I saw the sculpture at the Vatican Museum that it came to life for me (akin to Helen Keller feeling running water over her hands and finally grasping the concept of "water," though that's an exaggeration, I think). It would be interesting to read a work on how artists use shape, form and other aspects of nature in creating their works. I certainly think the connection is real, and related to what our minds do in reverie and dream.

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