It seems that I always had a visceral attachment to trees. As a wee child I loved to play under the plane trees in the square near our home in Paris. We lived in a flat but mother would take me most afternoons two blocks up to the Square d'Anvers. This square was opened in 1877 with a bandstand, a statue of Diderot (a French philosopher,) a column to Victory and many "platane" trees - plane-trees. Parents would sit on benches and little children would play in sand boxes under the trees. During WW2 the Germans melted the statues for metal. Later in the 1970s an underground parking was built and the plane trees were cut down. Other trees were planted but it does not look the same anymore. Below are vintage postcards that show the square in the early 1900s. When I used to play there in the mid to late 1940s the trees were even bigger than in the center postcard below. I took pictures of the rebuilt square several years ago. It is two blocks down from the Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre basilica.
Because of food rationing during and after WW2 (mother obtained one egg per week for me by doing some sewing for a farmer's wife) my health was not the best. The doctor told my parents that we should move to a place with fresh air or I would have to be placed in a sanatorium for a while. My parents bought a house in St Leu la Foret, a small town about 13 miles (20 km) from Paris at the foot of the large Montmorency Forest, but we still kept the Paris flat. In St Leu I would take my dog (shown below) walking on the trails in the forest, or I would also ride my bike deeper in the forest. I loved that forest. I knew it so well - all the best high spots to see Paris in the background and the special areas where wild hyacinths would grow in spring. This is a large forest of about 2200 hectares or 5440 acres. At the end of the Middle Ages the Montmorency Forest was planted with chestnut trees for the manufacture of wine wood barrels and also for heating; some of these chesnut trees became very large. I placed a red cross on the map below to show where our house in St Leu la Foret was located. Click on collage to enlarge.
In Georgia my husband and I bought our house mostly because it was surrounded by trees. The house stands only on one acre but there are many acres of trees around us, so it feels very secluded and we only see trees. We never had a garden because the tall pines created too much shade, but we planted annuals in pots. My dear blogging friends who have been reading my posts for a while have seen many pictures of the trees around the Georgia house. Here are some views below showing the front, sides and backyard with the lake behind our house.
This house is located in West Cobb County, between 3 towns: Marietta, Kennesaw and Acworth (about 30 miles or 50 km northwest of Atlanta.) There are more trees near our house because our road is very close to the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. This park is a 2,923-acre (11.8 km2) National Battlefield that preserves a Civil War battleground (the battle took place between June 18, 1864 and July 2, 1864) of the Atlanta Campaign. Every day I drove through this park to go and come back from work, and there are many trees along the route. My husband and I often walked on trails around the park. We also walked to the top of Kennesaw Mountain. You can see by the photo panorama below that the mountain is covered with trees. At the very top of the mountain there are rocks as well; do click on collage to get a better view.
Neighboring houses also have pretty trees - our neighbors on the right have flowering trees in spring. On the left is a farm with a large tree standing in the center of a meadow. In winter you can easily see Lost Mountain behind the meadow.
Fortunately my late husband loved trees as much as I do. I remember that for one of his father's big birthdays - either his 70th or 75th, my husband thought that the best gift would be to offer him a small tree. We purchased a Ginkgo Biloba for him as it is a hardy tree - it stands strong against pollution, soil compaction, disease, wind, drought, fire, cold and pests. The first winter in our house in Georgia we bought a living Christmas tree, a hemlock, which we planted near our mail box. After 39 years it was very tall and lovely. Unfortunately 3 years ago the Water Commission cut it down to install a water main pipe for a town near us. In the early 1980s our friend gave my husband a black walnut tree and to me a fig tree. Both were planted and grew well. I made fig jam every year, but not long ago during a hard freeze my fig tree died. Then last June 2018, during a strong wind storm, the black walnut tree fell down. It was like losing friends. Below is a Ginkgo Biloba with its fall foliage, top right is our hemlock tree, then a branch from my fig tree, and lastly the fallen black walnut tree.
When my husband's memory was fading I would remind him of places by mentioning trees. For example I would not say "the restaurant facing the Shell gas station" but "the restaurant that has 3 maple trees up front" or "the garage that has the huge oak tree at the corner" or "the doctor's office where there are many redbud trees in the parking lot" and he would remember where they were located. When we had to place him in an assisted living center I searched for one with free access to a garden with pretty trees. We found one in Franklin, TN. When I visited my husband he would be sitting there, or working on the plants. Then when we had to move him to a Veteran approved nursing facility, it took me a while again to find one with a garden and trees, but I did. It gives me comfort to know that 3 days before he died my husband was walking in the garden and sitting on a bench under a lovely tree.
Along the years I have taken a multitude of tree photographs. Often while driving if we passed an interesting tree I would stop the car, turn around, and we would look at it and if I had my camera I would snap it. Yesterday I gathered some of the tree photos I have here in Georgia, just a small sampling, because my old film photos and my newer photos are in Nashville. I have taken photos of trees in all seasons, in all different locales, close to home, far away, in cities, woods, mountains, swamps and parking lots. From top left below: Central Park, NY, Riverside Park, NY, Golden red tree Governor's Mansion Atlanta, North GA Fairgrounds parking lot, Fall color Ellijay, GA, tree in front of Marietta antebellum home, woods and stream in N GA Unicoi State Park, trees from Montmartre in Paris, Alcovy swamps east of Atlanta, fallen tree after storm and walking with my grandbaby in Columbus, OH, trees in Buttes Chaumont Park in Paris, pine trees viewed from train in the Yukon Territory, Canada.
I have taken photos of trees with full foliage or trees that have lost it, or just trunks. Below tree in San Antonio garden, Texas, bare tree limbs in Marseille, France, tree trunk and bare branches on trees in a Kauai park, Hawaii.
I wished I could have picked up an orange from that bushy orange tree in San Juan Capistrano, California shown below the lanky palm trees on San Clemente Beach, California.
Tree branches over dramatic skies are always exciting. Below are trees over a stormy sky from top of Kennesaw Mountain, GA, and a tree over sunset from Del Cerro Park in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
So you can imagine what a delight it was for me to view the monumental live oak trees when we arrived at the Destrehan Plantation. I hurried up taking photographs because the tour was 10 minutes away then after this last tour the plantation would close. The brochure says: "Established in 1787 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Destrehan Plantation remains the oldest documented plantation home in the lower Mississippi Valley." And "Located on the historic River Road, this antebellum home with its lush green grounds and moss draped Live Oaks watches over the banks of the Mississippi River just minutes away from New Orleans." These live oaks trees are over 230 years old at least and have grown very large, not too tall but some of their limbs are enormous and their spread is wide around the trunks. Some of their branches are so heavy that they have to be supported with metal holders.
Many trees have been named. The Henderson Live Oak is 45 ft (14 m) in height and up to 111 ft (34 m) in width. It is shown below in center top of collage.
Just to view these majestic, tortuous and extraordinary trees would have made me happy to have been on Destrehan Plantation, even if I had not been inside to tour the antebellum plantation house. What an exceptional array of wonderful ancient trees there. These trees have also inspired artists, such as the painting of a live oak by Louisiana painter George Rodrigue (American 1944-2013.)
I had fun drawing my own little live oak trees. Which one do you prefer? I think I like the colors in the bottom left one.
Arbres de la foret, vous connaissez mon âme! …
…Vous me connaissez, vous ! – vous m’avez vu souvent,
Seul dans vos profondeurs, regardant et rêvant...
- Victor Hugo, Aux Arbres 1856
Trees of the forest, you know my soul! ...
...You know me, you!- you have seen me often,
Alone in your depths, watching and dreaming...
- Victor Hugo, To the Trees 1856, French poet and novelist, 1802-1885