Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Majestic Old Ginkgo Tree in its Finest Hour

Yesterday was a cold and cloudy day, and I spent most of the day shopping in Jackson (about an hour away from Vicksburg). I had a list of several odds and ends I need for decorating projects and after making several stops and coming up empty handed, I was not a happy camper. Around 2:30, I ran out of steam and patience and headed for home.

As I approached Vicksburg, I thought about the huge old ginkgo tree in the National Cemetery in the Vicksburg National Military Park that I've been watching for several weeks in hopes of capturing with my camera at its peak.

If you would like to read my original post about ginkgos and a follow up post, click here and here.

I took these two pictures back in October ...


When photographing ginkgos, timing is everything. It seems like their leaves turn a glorious golden yellow overnight, and a few days later they start falling -- almost simultaneously. With cold, rainy, and windy weather forecast for the next few days, I knew it would be my last chance to get the pictures I've been waiting for so long. I rarely leave home without my cameras, and, even though I was tired from a stressful and frustrating day of shopping, I could almost hear that old ginkgo calling my name.

And sure enough ... my heart skipped a beat when, from the other side of the cemetery, I saw its radiant golden leaves beckoning to me .. and I knew my day had just gotten better.

[You can click on the pictures to see its magnificence up close]


The Ginkgo is the world's oldest living species of tree and can live a long time, some up to a thousand years. This is one of the largest ginkgos I've ever seen, and I would love to know how old it is. I'm sure it was there to witness the Siege of Vicksburg and hear the roar of the cannons as they bombarded Fort Hill. As I stood under its massive limbs which sheltered hundreds of headstones, I was overcome with awe and wished it could talk. Oh, what stories it could tell!









Capturing this old ginkgo in its finest hour of glory made my day and was worth trudging around the wet cemetery in my "shopping clothes" and mid-forties temperatures. It was like spending a quiet moment with God, and I will always treasure the experience.

I am linking this to "Outdoor Wednesday," hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer, and am looking forward to seeing everyone else's outdoors today.

Follow up: After I received a comment from Karen, I e-mailed the Arbor Day Foundation requesting information on how to go about dating the ginkgo. I promptly received a reply from an ADF representative stating that the estimated age of a tree like it is about one year for every inch of its circumference. Well, needless to say, I couldn't wait to go measure "my" tree, and enlisted the help of my husband when he got home from work. We went over to the park and measured the circumference as instructed, and it measured 234 inches, give or take a few inches. That's 234 YEARS OLD, folks, which would make it just a sapling in 1775 -- the year the American Revolution began! Is that not awesome!

After I sent photos of the tree to him, the Arbor Day Foundation representative told me that a tree that size might be a national or at least a state "champion." He provided a link to the American Forests website, and I discovered that they only register trees that are native to America, so, unfortunately, that would exclude a ginkgo tree. However, it will always be a "champion" in my eyes and in my heart.

14 comments:

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

Gorgeous tree, Janie. I love the shape of the gingko leaf.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

In a word... breathtaking!

XO,

Sheila :-)

fickleinpink said...

gorgeous!

took my breath away...

fell inlove with your blog, now following you!

Come visit my Wednesday if you have the time!
Life is beautiful!
Xoxo
fickle

Karen said...

Janie, You should contact the Arbor Day Foundation and nominate that tree for being added to the historic register for trees. The tree must be old enough to have witnessed historic events. I think you believe this tree is old enough to have done so. I saw something on the internet about the tree registry this summer. I wish I'd bookmarked the site, but I didn't. A picture of the tree must be submitted and you have a gorgeous one for that! Thanks for sharing this beautiful tree! And, by the way, it is one of my favorite varieties of trees!

Southern Lady said...

Karen: I tried to answer you on your blog but was unable to do so.

Thank you for the information about the Arbor Day Foundation. I have e-mailed them requesting information about ascertaining the age of the ginkgo tree.

Marjorie (Molly) Smith said...

so very very beautiful..absolutely breath taking...
Molly

Robert Walker said...

You beat me to it! Marty said it was at its peak of beauty and we are riding by there today. Awesome shots!

ForeverMe said...

Beautiful post and pictures Janie! Glad you were able to get the Gingko in it's finest hour! Only God can make a tree! so true, so true! I especially liked what you said about a quiet moment alone with God. There's no finer place for that quiet solitude is there?

9405018--Pat said...

What a beautiful old tree...thanks for sharing...Pat H
awesome shot as always...

Mary said...

What a treat this must have been for you. The tree is gorgeous and your photos of it are wonderful. I hope you are having a wonderful Outdoor Wednesday.

Karen said...

I'm afraid I am only a blog reader and don't have a blog! But I am thrilled you followed up on the national tree registry and your tree is, indeed, a winner! We all knew that, though, before this! Gorgeous tree and beautiful pictures you took of it! I am glad to hear it was a historic tree afterall! (kinda figured it was by its shear size!) Have a wonderful holiday!!! - Karen

Southern Lady said...

Karen, I am going to submit the gingko tree to the Mississippi Champion Tree Program. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Thanks, again, for letting me know about this worthwhile program.

grannyann said...

What an interesting post. I have never heard of that tree. It is really beautiful. Like you I wish it could talk. Thanks for sharing.

eileeninmd said...

Beautiful tree and photos. the yellow leaves on the Gingko trees are so bright and pretty.