I enjoyed a recent front page article from the Seattle Times. It was about a neighborhood joining together to save an exceptional tree from developers. It’s a tulip tree, which can grow as high as 120 feet (Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY). The Seattle tree is “Nearly 90 feet tall, with a diameter of 44 inches that classifies it as “exceptional” by city code, the deciduous tree has served the neighborhood as a contemplative counterbalance to the ever-devouring urbanism of Seattle.” – seattletimes.com/Seattle-news/Seattle-neighbors-band-together-against-developer-to-save-exceptional-tree/
Wikipedia explains the name Tulip Tree saying the tree “is a genus of two species of characteristically large deciduous trees in the magnolia family (Magnoliaceae). These trees are widely known by the common name tulip tree or tuliptree for their large flowers superficially resembling tulips.” In 1969 my wife Peg and I purchased a duplex on North Oakes in Tacoma. It was our first home. On the parking strip stood a beautiful tulip tree. The upstairs apartment’s picture window looked out onto the wonderful colors of it’s blossoms. This was a great feature. We generally rented out the apartment to students attending nearby University of Puget Sound. Once prospective renters saw the private view of the tulip tree in flower they were usually sold.
As I discovered a few months ago in my book club, almost everyone has a favorite tree. As a child my favorite tree was a plum tree in our backyard. I didn’t like the tree for the fruit, although now I love plums, what I liked was it’s climbability. I could scramble up the tree and read as I sat in the crook of the trunk and limbs. It had a rough bark. Although I have no photos of the tree from South Ferry Street, a painting by Von Gogh shows the curves and strength of the bow. He must have seen the tree.
For the last forty years, our home has a wonderful madrona tree. We adore it. Although I’ve never climbed up in it, I believe our kids and grandchildren did. I know as a child I would have. It looks sturdy and inviting. We love the curves of the limbs and the colors of the bark from rusting red to a vibrant yellow green. The bark sheds in the summer and new bark turns red and then darkens.
A number of Native American tribes hold the madrone sacred. They also eat the berries . . . or did. They also made a cider from their juices. We have not tried madrona cider. We have never sampled the berries, but our Huson Street deer love them as well as the tender leaves.
We have a large metal sculpture at the corner of our home created by Jennifer Bree Wedermann. The rust of the steel in the glow of the sun matches the ever changing red-orange of the bark. The curves of the cut-outs resemble the limbs of the madrona, while the metal flowers combine the look of both the blossoms of the madrona and the tulip tree. We find exceptional trees enchanting.