Archives for April 28, 2011

Remarkable Trees of Virginia: Alexandria Holly

We visited this tree a couple of weeks ago, and I am just now managing to go through the pictures and make an attempt at composing my thoughts.  I can’t say that my kids got as excited about this American holly as they do the really gigantic oak trees we have been visiting, but Seth especially was determined to see it nevertheless.  American hollies (Ilex opaca) are slow growing evergreen trees, and are not particularly long lived, the oldest specimens being about 150 years old.  The cemetery that this tree resides in, in Old Town Alexandria, has tombstones dating from the early 1800s, so the tree most likely was planted after the cemetery was established.
One of the interesting facts about American holly trees that we learned from our Remarkable Trees of Virginia book, is that George Washington was particularly fond of them, and planted them at Mt. Vernon. He mentions them frequently in his diaries, and the fact that he planted them from both saplings and seeds. Sadly none of the trees that he planted are living today. And just in case you didn’t know and assuming you want to… only the female holly trees produce berries, and they do require a male tree to bear fruit (they are dioecious.)

 

My kids were feeling pretty silly this day, so while I took dozens of group photos with the tree, there is not a single one with all five of them looking “normal.”
My girls have just about as much fashion sense as I do…
and of course I let them dress themselves most of the time.

 

The boys agreed that this hollowed out Sycamore tree was “cooler” than the holly tree.
Classic Seth–I have so many photos of him with this expression on his face, even when he was a toddler.

 

(this cemetery is adjacent to the one the holly tree resides in)
I felt a little nervous taking my children to visit a tree in cemetery.  I was concerned about things like teaching respect for the dead, but then it dawned on me, that were I buried in that cemetery that I would like nothing more than to have laughing children running around and even dancing on my grave.