Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Gingko and the Chair

Nothing we do in life, including gardening, is done completely alone and without influences.  This is particularly true if one has imaginative children.

This is our ginkgo tree.  It was planted about 15 years ago when our son Nick was a dinosaur-obsessed first-grader, and I decided to create a garden of plants that existed when the dinosaurs were alive.  We also planted the dawn redwood and the magnolia (one of the first flowering plants of the Cretaceous, although obviously not in a USNA-developed cultivar form) in the Way Back at that time, and then never got any further with the project, and Nick's interest in giant prehistoric beasts waned.  But the trees are still there.

You'll note that the ginkgo has two trunks.  It's had a tough life, okay?  I don't want to deny it any sort of happiness.  It was never the hardiest specimen (the sort of potted sapling you don't buy unless you are determined to acquire that particular species) and it suffered in several summers of drought after planting, eventually losing the growing tip.  Then a tree fell on it (that was Hurricane Isabel's fault).  I was sure it was a goner until we pulled the branches away and found it was basically undamaged.

After that (the shock, I'm sure) it did settle in and start to grow, in the more shrubby form you see now.  If I was a good arborist, I'm sure I would have eliminated one of those trunks, since eventually it'll turn into the sort of tree that splits down the middle, but I hate to discourage its second wind.  I'm tempted to leave those branches coming out of the base, too, but I'll probably prune them off.

Ginkgos have a lovely fall color; the others in the area have already turned, but ours is just starting; the warm green of the summer leaves is brightening into spring green before turning yellow.

The other influence Nick's had on the Way Back Revival is more recent.  This is The Chair.  He constructed this as a project for a high school art class and exhibition.  It's made out of bits of two-by lumber, and there's no scale in the photo, but it's throne-sized, four feet or more in each dimension.  After we brought it home, it sat on the front porch for years (Nick is now in his fourth year at college studying architecture) until I finally said "enough!" and this summer we moved it (in pieces) to a back corner of the property.  It is going to be a Goldsworthy-like art object returning slowly to nature.  So far it is collecting leaves and pieces of black walnut husks (the squirrels enjoy it), and a multiflora rose is attempting to climb it, but that will Not Be Allowed.  I wouldn't mind other vines, though, and I'd thought of spraying it with pulverized moss and buttermilk, which is supposed to then grow moss all over if you keep it moist for a while.  Didn't get to that yet, so I suppose in the spring.

My younger son is an actor (I have not built an amphitheatre yet) and a photographer, in which second capacity he records rather than inspires, though we do get a lot of this sort of thing -->

(That's the shell of a pumpkin; the insides had already been scooped out for cooking.)

Then there is the cat, who just says "you built this salad table for Me" and graciously takes possession.


  1. Erica,

    No surprise at ginko's survival from the dinosaur age. The tree seems indestructible. Ours was planted in the Year of the Cicadas and lost all of its branches save the few largest. Assuming the tree was going to die or be so severely stunted as to be an eyesore, I dug it up and stuck it in the ground in our side yard where the deer promptly rubbed antlers against it breaking open the trunk and tearing off remaining branches. Yet it is now (~10 years in) a small but attractive and healthy tree.

  2. They do seem to be tough! Check out the ones at the Giant at Germantown Commons, growing in those little tree boxes in the parking lot. No problem apparently.