Junk on the Trunk

Here’s a few pics I’ve taken recently of some cool-looking tree trunks.  The first was taken at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale, VA, one of my favorite garden haunts.  They have a few mature crape myrtles in front of the visitor center there with the prettiest cinnamon-brown bark you’ve ever seen.  It helps that the folks there know how to prune crape myrtles; it really makes a difference in showing off the smooth bark.   With its coloring and muscle-like texture, the tree trunk reminds me of the flank of a thoroughbred racehorse.  I believe this is cultivar ‘Biloxi’.

Crape Myrtle 'Biloxi'

 Here’s an ancient Osage Orange tree at Oatlands plantation out in western Loudoun County.  Looks like it belongs in a Grimms Fairy Tale, doesn’t it?  Hansel and Gretel will be along any minute.

The last one was taken at Oatlands, too.  It’s a great Shagbark Hickory specimen.  You gotta love the peeling bark, although I wonder if I had one of these, if I could stop myself from peeling big strips of it off.  It would be awfully tempting.

Shagbark Hickory

Comments

  1. Fabulous trunks.

  2. Mary,

    These are incredible pictures–what Georgia O’Keefe would have painted had she chosen the mid-Atlantic forests as her subjects. Rock on!

  3. Nature really does have it’s own amazing textures. Thanks for sharing.

  4. We have osage orange trees growing natively in Texas, but I’ve never seen one with a trunk as gnarled as the one in your picture. In lieu of the shagbark hickory we have the Ashe juniper, whose bark also peels off in narrow strips; some birds tear them off and use them in their nests.

    Steve Schwartzman
    http://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com

    • Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s a pretty ancient specimen. The biggest Osage Orange in the country is actually closeby DC, at one of George Washington’s farms in Alexandria, VA. It was grown from one of the cuttings brought to Jefferson by Lewis & Clark.

      I’ll have to look up the Ashe juniper…never heard of it, but sounds cool!

  5. I’ve always been a trunk saviour! These are fab!

  6. Great photos and great trees. Thin tight bark over muscley, rippling wood is a feature that crape myrtles share with manzanita and some sycamores (there are old ones in my neighborhood with near-white branches that recall dried bones. http://www.yourgardenshow.com/users/Groundskeeper/gardens/the-hood/activities/59493/media/63057

  7. I’m always a sucker for crape myrtles, especially right after they’ve shed their bark for the season. An interesting sidepoint: ever since I was a kid, I was told over and over that it was impossible to preserve that bark effect when trying to dry crape myrtle wood, because the wood tends to split and shatter as it dries. Considering that crape myrtles regularly lose side-trunks as they grow, this disappointed me to no end.

    This summer, though, I met a gnetleman who managed to work out a solution. If you find yourself having to remove a large branch or stem and want to preserve it, cut it at both ends, and apply standard wood glue to each end. Nothing spectacular: just enough so it seeps into the wood. Next, set aside the wood and let it dry slowly. I admit that I didn’t believe him until he showed me some beautiful walking sticks made from scavenged crape myrtles that were taken down by Dallas’s big blizzard last February. Not that any of my crepes are going to be affected this year unless we get a lot more snow than we did in February, but it’s something that I’m keeping in mind, and I may try this with good epoxy, too.

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