Trees of Winter

On this beautiful summer evening when the temperature is 80 degrees F, the humidity is low, and I’m surrounded by lush green leaves on trees and flowers blooming in my garden, it seems really strange – almost surreal, to be posting photos of winter trees. I have posted the trees of summer and fall for Becky’s July TreeSquares, now I am ready to post winter’s trees.

I love trees in winter, how snow collects on branches creating a stark contrast of white and black and the long shadows cast by the de-robed skeleton of trunk and branches by the low winter sun. I have emotional memories from childhood of being fascinated by the flicker of tree shadows through the car window as we drove down winter roads, like a 16 mm film. I am still intrigued by this magic of sun and shadow.

I don’t have much time to enjoy the trees of winter now that we spend most of it in Florida where there aren’t many deciduous trees. One of those trees is the bald cypress that I enjoy when we drive down the few dirt roads in the Everglades.

Falling of the Trees

This is my second post focused on trees during the four distinct seasons in the northern United States. The trees in summer and winter are pretty static – the deciduous trees are green leaved in summer and bare branched in winter. It is in spring and fall that the trees are in transition and change week by week, morphing into what they need to be in winter and summer.

Over the years we have vacationed in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in late August and early September. By this time we are very tired of the steamy heat of summer, looking forward to the crisp cool air of fall and the vibrant colors of fall foliage. It is in northern Michigan that we see the first hints of fall color on a single branch of a tree. I look for these as we are traveling down wilderness roads.

The next step in this transition is the yellowing of leaves in the woodlands. This wooded site in Vermont was very familiar to my eyes looking towards fall.

Early September in Vermont

As the yellow leaves mature and start to drop, we begin to see hints of pale red and orange in the landscape.

Hidden Lake Gardens in southern Michigan.

Soon the oranges become dominate adding big splashes of color bordering the fields of corn that is turning golden and brown as it dries for harvesting.

Reflections in the mill pond close to our home.

Then the oranges and reds of the Maples intensify and the oaks start turning a dark red. My favorite scenes are combinations of evergreens and deciduous trees because the evergreens provide a resting spot for my eyes that are overwhelmed by the riot of color.

Of course there are trees that are doing things besides producing a wonderful color show. We have many apple orchards in our area of Michigan and a special fall treat is visiting an apple orchard for freshly picked apples that snap when bitten into.

And soon the leaves begin to fall…

Until they are all on the ground waiting ready to be collected so they don’t smother grass and perennial flowers beneath them.

The trees are left bare, with their wonderful skeletal structure exposed, indicating winter coming very soon after. But that will have to wait until the next post as part of Becky’s tree-square challenge for the month of July.

Return to the Bonsai

We went to the Hidden Lake Garden in the Irish Hills section of lower Michigan with two primary intentions; to visit the bonsai display behind the Observatories and to have a picnic lunch. Thursday was the best day for us (no doctor/dentist appointment that day) and what a lucky choice that was as it is the day that the volunteers come in to prune and care for the bonsai trees.

The gentleman above was shortening/pruning the “candles” from this evergreen to slow growth and maintain shape. We made a quick duck behind some fencing to take a look at the plants they hold in reserve for rotation to the display. There were a couple of specimens that showed me what they look like before pruning.

My last post was of photos taken of this bonsai exhibit back in 2017 and I posted this next photo stating I didn’t have any information but thought it is an apple tree.

It is an apple tree, first potted in 1969 and at that time it was estimated to be 11 years old and a volunteer provided me the “rest of the story.” It was started by a farmer who potted it from his orchard and it bears apples about the size of a golf ball. If you look close you can see the fruit forming on the plant that was just past blooming at this visit.

There were at least six volunteers working, moving smaller plants into their work garage for trimming. They worked with great concentration, taking each snip very seriously although they were very eager to chat and answer questions.

Besides getting an inside look at operations, I also focused on taking photographs of trees I hadn’t previously seen because of the rotation of exhibits and collecting identifying information in anticipation of writing this post.

The above gallery of photos are the ones I found most interesting on this visit. You can see bigger photos and get information by clicking on any of the photos.

I think this post is a good one for the Lens-Artist Challenge #149: Cool Colours – Blue & Green. Not only is the foliage of most of these bonsai plants green (or mostly green) but I think this would be a really “Cool” hobby for someone a bit younger than I am. My part in bonsai growing will be as the appreciative spectator.

Spring is Working Its Way North

We did our annual “spring-in-reverse” trip north last week-end, stopping in Berea, Kentucky for a night at the historic Boone Tavern Hotel. We have stopped here before and the tulips were always at the end of their season, with only a few late-blooming ones in bloom. Not this year – this year we hit them at their peak. They felt like “lens-candy.”

Berea College provides free tuition to young people who have come to the U.S. for asylum so they can get a college degree and also has an arts program that supports the folk arts of the Appellation Mountain region. There are several shops that sell the items that students make so I did a little shopping before having supper in the Boone Tavern dinning room.

We had an enjoyable drive on Monday, surprised at trees budding green and gold, fruit trees blossoming, and spring flowers blooming in Michigan. On Tuesday afternoon we had snow flurries and woke on Wednesday to…

Obviously the path from winter to spring isn’t always straight. The snow melted by afternoon and each day is getting a little warmer, but shorts and flip-flops will remain in the closet for a while longer. We still have flannel sheets on the bed.

Very Bright Cat Tails

Couldn’t resist using this for Becky’s Bright Squares when I ran across it while perusing old files for spring photos. The back lighting of the seeds breaking free from cat tails really brightens things up.