Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Terrific Trees!

Last week, I helped teach the "Terrific Trees" 4-H summer camp. The workshop was based on the book Remarkable Trees of Virginia by Nancy Hugo and Jeff Kirwan. We wanted participants to appreciate great trees--big ones, old ones, historical trees, and just truly remarkable trees in Montgomery County.

Black Willow Virginia Tech Duck Pond July 21, 2009

The first tree we visited was in the book under campus trees since it is on the Virginia Tech campus. The Black Willow, unlike the Weeping Willow, is native to Virginia. The kids couldn't resist climbing up into the Black Willow. We learned that an extract from the bark is used to make aspirin.

Green Heron Virginia Tech Duck Pond July 21, 2009

While the children were doing measurements, I spotted this Green Heron ---only about 50 feet from where the tree was.

Bur Oak, Virginia Tech campus July 21, 2009

Not far away was another tree---a bur oak that grew near the Virginia Tech Massacre memorial on the Drill Field. This tree is remarkable for its huge crown spread. You can get an idea of the size of this tree by the cars that are parked next to it--they look like toys!

White Oak, Blacksburg, Virginia

The homeowner was happy to talk about the large white oak she has taken care of since she moved here in 1962. She said that the tree was her house's air conditioner. Both the Black Willow and this White Oak are in the Remarkable Trees book.

Red Maple Pilot, Virginia July 22, 2009

This red maple tree grew in a large rock on a farmer's land. His daughter nominated the tree for the Remarkable Tree database. I first demonstrated how to sketch the tree and the children followed suit. Their sketches were quite good.

American Chestnut Selu Preserve, Riner, Virginia

The final tree is remarkable for just being alive--it's a 15 feet tall American Chestnut. Researchers are trying to restore the American Chestnut which vanished as the major tree in American forests due to chestnut blight. This is the only tree that survived of the dozen or so seedlings that were planted.

I didn't post some of the photos of the other trees we visited but all were truly terrific! I hope the children will go on to appreciate how valuable trees are.


  1. What a wonderful way to get kids to appreciate trees.
    I love trees. To me all trees are remarkable and beautiful. I enjoy being in the company of trees.
    Thank you for this lovely post.

  2. I love big trees! That Black Willow. . . WOW!

    Our area on the coast has some wonderful live oaks and longleaf pines, but not nearly enough. Every time we go there we see at least two or three logging trucks on the highway.

    Schoolyards without trees always look neglected to me.

  3. ...great post. Love the trees--and what a great way to inspire kids.

  4. Wonderful photos. Just saw a green heron fly over the other day. Thought it was a crow until I saw his beak!

  5. Rita--I do hope the kids remember their 2 days with the great trees. Thanks.

    merrilymarylee--I love the Black Willow too especially because it's native. The coast does have some great trees, especially the live oaks we don't have in the mountains.

  6. Kelly--thanks and hope the kids were inspired.

    Beautiful Creation--that was the first green heron I had ever seen so it was pretty exciting. And, who knew it would be on campus!

  7. How can you not stand in wonder and awe of these magnificient trees? What a great thing to teach children about them. They are marvelous.