“In spring, their branches held aloft pinnacles of white and pink blooms; in the twilight, they appeared as ghostly candelabra.”  —  Clare Cooper Marcus, Iona Dreaming: The Healing Power of Place

Horse chestnut blossom, upright as a candle

Horse chestnut blossom, upright as a candle

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“The leaves of the horse-chestnuts take advantage of a moment of inattention to burst forth.  Every year it is the same surprise, the same annoyance at having let oneself be taken by surprise.  Spring comes stealthily, like the children’s Santa Claus.  Each time I plan again to lie in wait, to keep a sharper eye on its entrance; but there remains something mysterious, something furtive about it.  One stops thinking about it for a moment; one’s eyes close or turn away toward a book . . . One raises one’s head: it is there.”
— from The Journals of Andre Gide, Vol. 3 (April 18, 1932)

Seattle's Volunteer Park in May

Seattle’s Volunteer Park in May

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I went on another Seattle Tree Walk, one of several featured on the City of Seattle’s website.  The tree map for Volunteer Park is split into four sections.  Rather than follow the map rigorously hunting all 91 identified trees, I meandered only the area around the Seattle Asian Art Museum, the Conservatory and reservoir.  There are some spectacular trees in this park.  Here are a few of my favorites from this walk.

Seattle Asian Art Museum

Seattle Asian Art Museum

Isamu Noguchi's Black Sun sculpture, Volunteer Park

Isamu Noguchi’s Black Sun sculpture, Volunteer Park

Tall maple tree along reservoir

Tall maple tree along reservoir

Morning sun along reservoir

Morning sun along reservoir

Horse chestnut trees

Horse chestnut trees

Horse chestnut leaves

Horse chestnut leaves

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Carolina silverbell tree

Carolina silverbell tree

Carolina silverbell

Carolina silverbell

Magnificent European Copper Beech tree

Magnificent European Copper Beech tree

European Copper Beech tree

European Copper Beech tree

European copper Beech tree

European copper Beech tree

 

 

 

 

Old trees, Volunteer Park, Seattle

Old trees, Volunteer Park, Seattle

One of the pleasures of having out-of-town guests is that you get to re-visit your favorite spots while you give them an insider’s view of your home town.  Volunteer Park in Seattle is one such place.  The rhododendrons were in bloom on this most recent visit, and the stately old trees stood in green grandeur.

The rhododendron is the official state flower for Washington

The rhododendron is the official state flower for Washington

Old cedar tree

Old cedar tree

Under the canopy of a horse chestnut tree

Under the canopy of a horse chestnut tree

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My niece in the donut hole of Isamu Noguchi's sculpture, "Black Sun," in Volunteer Park

My niece in the donut hole of Isamu Noguchi’s sculpture, “Black Sun,” in Volunteer Park

Horse chestnut volunteers

New trees sprouting

Nature is certainly tenacious.  I noticed these horse chestnut trees sprouting in the parking strip where mature trees had been removed earlier this year.  I don’t doubt that these volunteers will soon be mowed down.  But I have to admire Nature’s optimism in attempting to regenerate.

I wonder at what point a sprout or shoot becomes a sapling?

 

Horse chestnut tree in flower

I do miss the horse chestnut trees that were removed from our street corner, but I can’t help but notice them around the city right now because they are in full bloom.  And their flowers are gigantic!  I like the Scarlet Horse Chestnut trees — there are a lot of them blooming at the Ballard Locks right now.  Their flowers are like little red Christmas trees decorating the green horse chestnut trees.

Scarlet horse chestnut flowers

Scarlet horse chestnut trees at the Ballard Locks

Towering trees at the Ballard Locks

I really like the shape and arrangement of the leaves of these trees.  Here are some shots looking up into the canopy:

The leaves make a lovely pattern

Horse chestnut trees in Columbia City

This update follows quickly on the heels of last week’s posts.

New leaf buds on willow branch

First the willow tree.  I read something interesting about willow buds:

“Having separate buds for leaves and flowers — such as a willow, poplar, and alder — allows a tree to open its flower buds a month before the leaf buds . . . Wind-pollinated trees may produce flowers a month or more before leaves, which tend to block wind flow.”
— Bernd Heinrich, Winter World

No wonder the green leaf buds appeared on my willow only after the pussies became bedraggled and had dispersed some of the yellow pollen.

Maple buds birthing new leaves

Newly emerging maple leaves in the rain

Maple bud and raindrop

The leaf buds on my maple trees are birthing more green leaves every day.

A miracle unfolding -- horse chestnut buds, day 4

And here’s the latest news-flash about my “adopted” horse chestnut trees — they have been cut down and are gone.  I will miss observing them.  I am now glad that I cut two small branches with buds to watch from my kitchen windowsill.  This morning when I saw them, I actually exclaimed “Wow!” out loud.  The gauzy leaves have unfolded, revealing a cone-shaped seed head inside.  I just marvel at how much life was contained in one little resinous bud.  Truly amazing.

Inside a horse chestnut bud

Top-down view of horse chestnut buds in a vase

I woke to this amazing sight -- an unfolding story

What a difference a day makes!  In just one day, the horse chestnut buds opened their varnished shells and gauzy, thready leaves are poking through.  I can tell that Spring is going to have me hopping to keep up with its changes.

Open bud, horse chestnut tree

The varnished shell of the bud opens to release a gauzy new leaves

Horse chestnut buds, day 1 and day 2

Watercolor sketch of horse chestnut buds