Remarkable Trees of Virginia: Adventure #1

Last week (Aug. 17 for the record) I took the kids for our first remarkable tree hunt.  I have written out a list of all the trees in Remarkable Trees of Virginia including the county where they live.  This is borderline nerdy, I know.  But it was the best way to start mapping out the location of all the trees we hope to visit.  I need to actually put the list in Excel when I find time (of course after making my list it dawned on me to search it online and I found a list here.)  Jonny thought I might like to buy a GPS so we can post coordinates to each tree as we visit it.  Yes, I would actually.
Our first trip was planned around a visit to the farm we have been buying milk from lately.  I found two trees nearby with an exact address for one, and an approximate location of the other.  The first was Ashland’s Tricycle tree, which is in the “Unique Trees” category of Remarkable Trees.  This tree, a huge old willow oak (Quercus phellos,) has a tricycle embedded in a branch twenty feet off the ground.  Many years ago a couple of little boys used it as a pulley to pull things into their treehouse.  The book listed an exact address so we didn’t expect to have any problems.  We actually got a little lost which made the search for this tree really feel like an adventure for the kids (getting lost can be fun!)  Something about searching for something makes it so much more exciting when you find it.  Only once we arrived at the address (505 South Center St.,) there was no tree to be found.  There was this adorable sense of urgency in the kids as the six of us peeked in backyards and approached strangers inquiring about the “famous” tree.  The first woman had no idea what we were talking about, the second (an elderly woman wearing a Twilight t-shirt with Edward on it-so cute) told us that we were at the wrong address, and she believed that the tree had been cut down; the first tree on our adventure!  “Impossible,” Seth said.  We headed for the public library a couple of blocks down the street to get a second opinion.  The librarian agreed that the tree had been cut down by the college down the street.  So, still in disbelief, we stopped at the local ice cream shop and were told yet again that the tree had been cut down to make room for sports fields.  Seth, not a fan of sports, was livid.  Poor kid.  We drowned our sorrows in ice cream and then headed down the street to search for the tree’s former location, still hanging on to the hope that the huge (6.5 ft. diameter) old willow oak would still be there.
Of course everyone had been telling us the truth.  There wasn’t even a stump to prove that the tree ever existed (at 505 North Center St. btw.)  Huge disappointment.  I mean of all the trees for me to pick as our first to visit!
Thankfully there was a second tree to visit this day at the Sycamore Tavern, and it proved easy to find. I was afraid that it wouldn’t be big enough to impress Seth, especially after the disappointment over the tricycle tree.
This American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) is in the book because of it’s connections to the community, therefore it resides in the Community Trees section of the book. It is also a pretty big tree (4 ft. diameter.) It was big enough to make everyone happy. I have to remind the kids that this is not a champion tree tour alone, but a remarkable tree tour, meaning that not every tree is going to be huge!
I can’t tell you how excited I am at the thought of having a book printed with one photo of my kids with each of the trees we visit.  I don’t tell them to smile or anything (obviously!), just sit with the tree.  They oblige me, also excited at the prospect of all these photos documenting our travels.
This is another sycamore tree on the property, that according to a local librarian was once used as a living jungle gym for schoolchildren who would slide down the trunk and out a hole at it’s base!  Today you can see where the hole was, but the central trunk of the tree is gone.
We have plans to visit more trees later this week!


  1. Hi Ginny,

    My name is Jeff and I am one of the authors of the Remarkable Trees of Virginia book. Thanks so much for your wonderful posts. I am sorry that the tricycle tree in Ashland died. To help you avoid other wild goose chases, I put a list of all the trees that have died since the book was published on the website homepage. Don’t hesitate to write if you have any questions. I would love to meet you all if/when you come to visit trees in the Blacksburg area.

    Take care,

    Jeff Kirwan

I love to hear from you!