Bonsai trees – Living works of art: Thursday Tree Love

These bonsai trees in the Portland Japanese Garden were living works of art. We visited the garden in mid-October, when the colors of autumn were beginning to put on their show.

The first tree is a Japanese maple and it’s 35 years old. This variety’s foliage changes from green to shades of golden-yellow and red. This maple’s reddish bark intensifies in color over the winter months.

Bonsai trees - maple
Japanese maple, Acer palmatum ‘Beni-kawa’

The second tree is a vine maple and it’s 75 years old. This type of maple is common in Pacific Northwest forests. Those growing in shade tend to have yellow fall color, while those in direct sunlight are more likely to turn orange and scarlet.

Vine maple
Vine maple, Acer circinatum

The third tree is a trident maple and it’s 30 years old. This maple is native to China, Korea, and Japan. It gets its name from its three-lobed leaves.

Trident maple
Trident maple, Acer buergerianum

The fourth photo shows a miniature forest of Japanese maples and it’s 35 years old. These trees already dropped their leaves for the season.

Bonsai trees Japanese maple
Japanese maple forest, Acer palmatum

The sixth photo shows a Japanese beech that’s 30 years old. This species only grows in parts of Japan – it is an endemic species. Its copper-colored leaves stood out from the rest of the bonsai trees.

Japanese beech

The seventh photo shows a winterberry and it is 45 years old. Winterberry are endemic to a province in China. Their distinctive red berries let you know they’re related to holly.

Winterberry bonsai
Winterberry, Ilex reticulata

The eighth picture shows a dwarf Asian pear and it’s 25 years old. This pear is native to China and Vietnam. This was one of my favorites because I admired its twisting branches.

Dwarf Asian pear bonsai tree
Dwarf Asian pear, Pyrus calleryana ‘Mame Nashi’

Thursday Tree Love

Streets lined with gold: Thursday Tree Love

These streets lined with gold are along the highway east of Mount Hood in Oregon. I was there a week ago and the colors were spectacular!

streets lined with gold

The golden leaves along this road are mostly on aspen and larch trees. Larch is a deciduous conifer. Yes, most conifers keep their leaves through the winter–not the larch. See my post Western larch – A beauty in gold for more about these trees.

Fall aspen and larch

We also saw pops of red from the vine maples growing along this route.

streets lined with gold

The last picture shows bigleaf maples growing near the Columbia River. It was wonderful to see streets lined with gold in several locations on this trip in northern Oregon.

Fall leaves

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Pines on pilings along Deschutes River Trail: TTL

I saw these lodgepole pines on pilings next to a bridge crossing the Deschutes River. I was hiking the trail to Benham Falls but had to pause to marvel at these little trees. Trout swam around the pilings, providing a little extra fertilizer for this odd nursery.

Who knows why the trees settled there. They certainly found a nice piece of waterfront property with a view. 😉

pines on pilings

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Rooted in the past: Thursday Tree Love

Rooted in the past

These western juniper trees near the shore of Prineville Reservoir were rooted in the past. After many years of fluctuating water levels, their roots became exposed. The red volcanic soil here stands out in strong contrast with the deep blue sky and green foliage.

Thursday Tree Love

Big Tree – Biggest Ponderosa Pine: TTL

This gigantic pine is Big Tree, AKA Big Red, the biggest Ponderosa pine, Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa, ever recorded. It’s located in LaPine State Park, north of La Pine, Oregon. Though it lost 30 feet of its crown during severe storms, it is still the largest Ponderosa pine in circumference.

Big Tree in Oregon

Here are some facts about this tree:

  • Circumference: 28 feet 11 inches
  • Height: 167 feet
  • Crown spread: 68 feet
  • Approximate age: 500+ years
  • Board feet: 25,000

LaPine State Park Manager, Joe Wanamaker, gave insights about Big Red in an article in the local Source Weekly. He thought it was spared from being logged due to evidence of fire damage. This may have affected the quality of the wood harvested. Wanamaker also pointed out this tree is growing in an ideal location where water tends to collect in the soil from the nearby Deschutes River.

A paved, ADA accessible, 1/4 mile trail leads to this unique sight. Foot traffic around this much-loved attraction caused soil compaction that threatened its growth. A protective fence was constructed around it in the year 2000.

In this map of the park, from Oregon State Parks, Big Tree is located in the lower right corner.

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Loop-de-loop lodgepole: Thursday Tree Love

Loop-de-loop lodgepole

I saw this loop-de-loop lodgepole pine growing alongside Firehole Lake Drive in Yellowstone National Park. Everyone drove right past it but I had to stop and take its picture. I wondered what stopped it from going straight up. It figured out how to grow around obstacles and keep going in the right direction. A lesson for us all.

Thursday Tree Love

Pine trees at Lava Lands: Thursday Tree Love

Pine trees towering over an ancient lava flow at Lava Lands Visitor Center, in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Oregon. You can see South Sister and Broken Top in the distance.

Pine trees at Lava Lands, Oregon

The 0.4-mile Trail of the Whispering Pines winds its way through the forest near the visitor center. You get great views of pine trees, Lava Butte, and several nearby volcanoes. This path sits on part of Newberry Volcano, a 1,200-square mile shield volcano.

South Sister, pictured on the left above, is the youngest and most geologically active of the Three Sisters volcanoes. The mountain last erupted 2,000 years ago, but a “bulge” began forming in 1997. By 2001, the bulge grew to 9 inches in height and 10 miles in diameter. Its growth since that time has slowed considerably. Both South Sister and Newberry are regularly monitored for volcanic activity.

Thursday Tree Love

Fiery red oak tree: Thursday Tree Love

I watched the colors turning last fall on this fiery red oak tree in a local park in Bend, Oregon. This young tree doesn’t yet have the twisting branch structure of mature oaks, but those uniquely-shaped leaves are beautiful three seasons of the year.

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Snow-capped mountain ash: Thursday Tree Love

Snow-capped mountain ash

Snow-capped mountain ash berries are a delicious dessert for our feathered friends.

Thursday Tree Love

Oak tree at Newgrange: Thursday Tree Love

Oak tree at Newgrange

I saw this old oak tree at Newgrange, County Meath, Ireland last winter. I think they are one of my favorite trees without leaves. Look at those branches!

Thursday Tree Love

A decorated tree: Thursday Tree Love

I saw this decorated tree near Sisters, Oregon. There was a nice contrast between the rough brown ponderosa pine bark and the delicate tufts of fluorescent green lichen.

A decorated tree October 2020

Thursday Tree Love

Struck by Lightning – Bye 2020!: TTL

Struck by lightning western juniper tree June 2020
Western juniper tree struck by lightning near Brothers, Oregon

I’m representing my feelings towards 2020 by showing it being struck by lightning. Yes, there were some great moments, but I’m glad to be saying bye to this particular year.

See how all the other western juniper trees around this tree are thriving? Can you see the sliver of blue in the distant sky? Once the dark clouds dissipate, we’ll have a brighter future where more of us can thrive.

Happy New Year!

Thursday Tree Love (TTL)

A visitor in the cottonwoods: Thursday Tree Love

I saw this visitor in the cottonwoods in Fields, Oregon. Great horned owls like to hang out in this particular stand of black cottonwoods. I was on the Circling Steens Mountain tour that’s a part of the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival.

Visitor in the cottonwoods - great horned owl April 2018

The trees weren’t leafed out yet on this April field trip, but that made it easier to see birds. Cottonwoods like to have wet feet, as you can tell in this photo.

Black cottonwoods near Fields, Oregon April 2018

If you visit this area, be sure to sample one of the famous milkshakes at The Fields Station.

Thursday Tree Love

Western larch – A beauty in gold: Thursday Tree Love

One of my favorite local trees is the western larch, Larix occidentalis. This conifer tree is unique because it drops its needles in the winter. Before they litter the forest floor, the needles turn a distinctive golden-yellow color. They stand out from the deep green shades of surrounding trees.

Western larch near Sisters, Oregon October 2020
Young western larch tree

They have a delicate, almost lacey, growth form. Look at these needles radiating out in little groups of 15-30 on this branch. They are softer and more flexible than some of their pine tree cousins.

A home for wildlife

A wide range of wildlife relies on larch for food and cover. Squirrels feed on the cones and cache the seeds for future use. Songbirds nest and forage in their branches. They are especially important to pileated woodpeckers. This tree is an important food source for several kinds of grouse. Large mammals forage on the needles as a last resort since they are not as tasty as other trees.

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