Quotes: Trees

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Any fool can destroy trees, they cannot run away.

- John Muir -
see What's Coming Up #49 and What's Coming Up #152

Below: They may not die right away but they suffer greatly and die eventually from the extra soil added over their roots and the airlessness of soil pressed hard by construction equipment. Sometimes we wish they would die more quickly and dramatically so that builders and new homeowners might begin to connect action and consequence.


In a tree... anchoring roots... are most developed opposite to the prevailing winds, ...and its strength is related to the wind pressure which it must needs withstand.

- D'Arcy Thomas, in On Growth and Form -
see What's Coming Up #88


Stress builds strength. As prairie oaks shift in the weather, roots develop to counter prevailing winds. Prevent the tree from swaying, and its wood and roots will become less strong.

Happy the Man...
Whose trees in summer yield him Shade
In Winter Fire

- Benjamin Franklin, in Poor Richard's Almanack, 1744 -
see What's Coming Up # 152

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree...
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

- Joyce Kilmer, in Trees -
see What's Coming Up # 152

PoemLovely9694s.jpg  PoemLovely1196s.jpg

Above: Flower of tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), and burls that create a face on an old tree trunk.

 I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I'll never see a tree at all.

- Ogden Nash, in Song of the Open Road -
see What's Coming Up #153

Woodman, spare that tree!
Touch not a single bough!
In youth it sheltered me,
And I'll protect it now.

- George Pope Morris, in Woodman Spare That Tree -

 SpareThat1900_2s.jpg EvenInDeath7387s.jpg

If the environment allows, a tree may grow vigorously even after extensive damage and even grow over the injuries. Yet, even in death they can be beautiful and useful, as this dogwood skeleton being used as art and rose support.

It is a simple matter to plant trees in straight lines, but informal groupings will test the sensitivities of the most experienced planter and the smaller the groups the more difficult they are to place.

- Graham Stuart Thomas, in Great Gardens of Britain -


Red horsechestnut (Aesculus x carnea) is not renowned for long life so we anticipate replacing this 20 year old in another 10 or 20 years. However, it is not known for fall color, either, yet it's been providing this kind of show fairly reliably. So we'll bide its time and meanwhile enjoy it for all it cares to give!

If a tree dies, plant another in its place.

- Carl Linnaeus -
see What's Coming Up #164



  On either side of the front walk there towered two
  old horse-chestnut trees. I loved their sticky,
  unfurling leaves, and when they bore their candles
  it was magic, breath-catching, eye-delighting. Cut
  down, cut down. What kind of man cuts down trees
  that took all those years to grow? I do not

- from the poem Horse-Chestnut Trees and Roses by James Schuyler -

  Left: Horsechestnuts trees have a distinctively craggy appearance.
   Below: In our town 150 years ago, a man planted trees. He loved the
  horsechestnut (
Aesculus hippocastanum); many remain, their blooms
  providing a fine 'welcome back' to hummingbirds each spring.

HorsChstntBlm2848s.jpg HorsChstntFlClo2854s.jpg

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way.

- William Blake -

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...Cinderella at the ball, the common mulberry, so drab and unappreciated the remainder of the year, suddenly (briefly) glows brilliant yellow, a beacon of splendor.

- Carol Bishop Hipps, In a Southern Garden, 1994 -
For more on trees by fall color, see Fall Color Landscape

White mulberry (Morus alba) and red mulberry (Morus rubra) trees are very similar in appearance but for the glossiness of white mulberry leaves. The red mulberry, native in eastern North America, would be a good, sturdy, undemanding, wildlife-friendly tree for the landscape but the white mulberry's weedy nature has caused most gardeners to dismiss all mulberries from consideration.

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Oh, for the room to grow every tree we love. Yet a quarter-acre suburban lot has room for just 3 to 5 medium- to large trees.