Archives for August 8, 2011

Remarkable Trees of Virginia: The Earlysville Oak

I think the best part of our tree adventures is the searching for them.  This time around we knew that this giant oak was in the vicinity of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport, close enough that it had to be protected during the relocation of a nearby highway.  So we drove in and around the airport and then started circling wider.  We joked about the funny ways we could ask people for help finding it (strangely enough, some might actually find a van full of children and their parents searching for a tree a bit odd.  They might not understand what we are talking about when we say, “you know, the Earlysville oak?  It’s one of the Remarkable Trees of Virginia!)  Thankfully, it did not take long before we spotted the giant white oak sitting on a hill, airplanes flying overhead.  I didn’t have to hang out the passenger window to question an innocent bystander a single time.  That’s not always the case.
As is typical when we visit a large white oak (Quercus alba,) comparisons were immediately made to the Cumberland Oak.  I think the Cumberland will always be the kids’ favorite, but this tree was equally grand in my humble opinion.
The efforts made to protect the Earlysville oak during the nearby construction were clearly successful. We saw no major signs of decline.  According to the authors of Remarkable Trees of Virginia, even washing out a concrete truck near a tree’s root zone can raise soil pH and harm the tree, and storing building materials near the tree can compact the soil, which can also lead to damage.  Keeping a tree safe and healthy during construction requires more effort than one would think.
As we drove around searching for this oak, Seth lamented several times that they must have ended up cutting it down.  Sadly, that was the case for the first remarkable tree we ever went searching for.  We are all thankful that the efforts were made to save this magnificent tree.
I really wanted to get a group shot with me and all of my kids.  They weren’t so inclined.  Keats wouldn’t come down out of the tree, and once I finally coaxed Gabe to come over, he stood right in front of Seth, who wasn’t looking anyway, and made that face.  He is moving into an eye rolling phase and thinks I am ridiculous.  Anyway, his expression is so funny in this photo, that I thought it worth including despite my weird expression.
You might think that Larkspur is carrying a little bouquet of wildflowers on her way back to the van, but upon closer inspection, you would realize that those are actually dead animal bones.  “A gift for Trudy,” she said.
I am wondering if our tree adventures will pick up again as the weather cools down this fall.  I hope so!