Friday, September 3, 2010

Tree Hunt

Just a random tree, not part of the hunt.
A couple of weeks ago, New York magazine had an article about how the trees in Central Park are faring after last year's big August storm.  There was a slide show of some notable trees.  I was at a loose end and decided to go on a treasure hunt of sorts, looking for the trees in the slide show.  With all the subsequent cat drama, I did not have the time to post the pictures until now.  I skipped some of the trees; the cherry trees which look best in April or May, the fall foliage in the Ramble.  Other trees bore witness to violence, like the tree near where Robert Chambers committed murder or the tree that killed a baby with a falling branch.  I started on 103rd Street and worked my way south.

Near 103rd is a stand of young redwoods to replace trees devastated by the storm.  They are so small and dainty, it is hard to believe that they can grow to be such giants.

Their needles are like feathers.  I did not get a lot of pictures because one of the park's workers was setting up sprinklers and I didn't want to get in the way.  It was a steaming hot day, but in the park it was not oppressive.  The sprinklers cause the plant scents to rise into the air.  It was deeply relaxing.

The East Meadow was closed, so I missed the American Elm that New York magazine dubbed "The Greatest" and the small tree that sailed around the city as part of a Robert Smithson art piece.
Near the reservoir is a huge London Plane tree.

It is like three ordinary trees put together.

The bark has some cool patterns.

The English Elm near the Engineers' Gate is possibly one of the oldest trees in the park.

Dutch Elm disease devastated the elm population around the world in the seventies and the eighties. It is pretty impressive how many elms remain in the park.  I had never realized how lucky we were to have so many of these beautiful trees.

This tree felt very welcoming, like an old grandmother.

I swung around the reservoir to the Ross Pinetum. Arthur Ross was a philanthropist and supporter of the park.  In the seventies, he started planting a grove of pine trees.

I love pine trees.  Perhaps it is their smell, the way the fallen needles lie in a carpet that softens sounds. I find them calming.

The pinetum has a playground.  The sounds of the children did not disturb, neither did the squeaking of the swing chain.

At this point, I should have gone to see the tallest tree, but I forgot. By the time I remembered, I was too far south.

This Chinese elm is the descendant of a tree that was particularly resistant to Dutch Elm disease during the pandemic.  Arthur Ross funded a study and the tree was propagated to help replace those that were lost.  Until I started looking for the trees, I had no idea who Arthur Ross was. I think working with trees is a noble philanthropy.

The lake had a large algae bloom.  I would not have wanted to go boating.

I did not take pictures of the Literary Walk, which is off in the distance here. I remember one evening in May, a long time ago, when I saw the walk as the sun was turning gold. It looked like  vintage Disney animation cel from the forties.  Recently, any time I have been there the walk is crowded with tourists in bright clothes, eating.  I do not begrudge them but I do not want to photograph them. So I took a picture of this nearby crusty old elm tree instead.

It had some good light too, even if it wasn't in technicolor.

I had a little trouble finding my last tree, the Chinese toon.  It is the only one of its kind in the park.  At first I mistook a honey locust for it, but then I looked a little farther and saw its feathery leaves.

Apparently the Chinese eat them. The leaves have an oniony flavor.

That is where I ended the hunt, at 7th Avenue and 59th Street, tired but extremely relaxed.

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