Landscapes with Soul
It seems as if ancient trees possess souls. Standing next to a Giant Sequoia feels very different from standing next to a typical park tree. There’s a palpable presence. The age and majesty of ancient trees certainly make them worthy of reverence for their beauty and respect for their survival.
When watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy, my favorite scenes were ones that included the Ents, ancient spirits that looked like trees. That fantastic idea seems perfectly reasonable when visiting Sequoia National Park. My first response as we entered and saw the Giant Sequoias was to gasp for breath. You hear the word “awesome” used a lot, but these trees are truly deserving of the adjective. It would have been no surprise to see them slowly move and begin to walk.
Giant Sequoias live in groves. They are cousins to the smaller, Dawn Redwood. They grow up to almost 300 feet tall. Gravity restricts the height that water can be drawn up to the top branches, or they might grow taller. Researchers have studied their plumbing to emulate in experiments with an elevator to space. The trunks can reach up to 100 feet in diameter. That as wide as a large house. You can see the history of previous fires in the intriguing scars left behind. They can live for 3,000 years.
Part of the reason they are able to live so long is because of the protective nature of their fibrous bark. It provides a great deal of fire resilience because it can grow up to 3 feet thick. That’s just the bark, not the trunk! The wood from the oldest specimens, unlike the Coastal Redwoods, is brittle and not really good for construction, so it makes absolutely no sense to use the ancient trees for timber. The burnt scars of previous fire damage are on all the larger specimens.
When you design a landscape, consider the legacy it will leave for others. Create an outdoor space that will age well. The ancient Sequoias are nature’s example of storytelling. As a professional landscape designer, you can tell your own story with trees and plants. Create something that will last through generations and will survive the firestorms of time.