After the latest tornado to roll through, I have been out looking at logs to pickup. I ran across this White Oak not far from my sawmill that was listed on Craigslist for free firewood. I could tell even from a blurry, out-of-focus photo that it was giant and needed to see just how big. It is 52″ in diameter about 8′ from the base and one of the two biggest White Oaks I have run into (the other is actually a Burr Oak, but it is in the White Oak family. Click here to check it out). Unfortunately, it was hollow all the way up, but I still had to get a photo. Good luck to the kids that want to firewood that one!
Click on any photo to get a closer look:
Two weekends ago we were looking for some local entertainment and ended up taking a little trip to the Missouri Botanical Gardens. It is on our short list of great St. Louis attractions, and even though it isn’t free like the zoo, the science center, or the art museum, we go there at least once a year. We live in St. Charles now, which is just outside of St. Louis County, so we don’t get a reduced rate or free days like we did when we lived in Hazelwood, but it doesn’t matter. It is well worth the full price of $8 for adults. Children under 12 are free, but the Children’s Garden will add $5 to the bill. Still, for about twenty bucks, it is well worth it.
As soon as I walk through the main building I feel a little lighter and happier, like the worries of the world have just vanished. It feels right. It is so nice and clean and Disneyesque. I can’t help but think that someone needs to build a hotel next to the gardens to capitalize on what they have going. Of course, I’m biased though. I love the outdoors, plants, gardens, and trees.
As soon as you walk out of the main building and head down the path to the right, you are greeted by large trees. I noticed Tulip Poplars and a big Sycamore right away, but they are mixed in with every tree you can think of. The beauty is that they are big, they are old, and they are labeled (by people who I trust).
The trees are set among themed gardens and are usually together in a small group or grove. The Children’s Garden, which is an excellent recent addition, is built in and around a grove of Osage Orange trees like you have never seen. Usually these trees are bushy, with short crooked trunks. Sometimes, they are called “hedge apple” or just “hedge” for short, because they will form a fence-like impenetrable barrier. They are rarely trees that you would look at and say “I could make some good lumber out of that”, but these are a different story. One, in particular, that I photographed is 36″ in diameter at 8′ from the ground and has 16′ or more of good trunk. “Unbelievable!” I say.
Throughout the park the story is the same. Big trees mixed in with beautiful gardens are a constant, except of course, in the Japanese Garden, where everything is more petite. Back by the English Garden are the biggest trees; Ash, White oak, and a record Basswood.
One group that stood out during our visit was the Black Gums or Tupelo. Three smaller trees hung over the path and were buzzing with the sound of thousands of bees. I have heard about Tupelo Honey and I got a chance to hear it being made (the girls were not as excited as me to be under those trees). There were a few beehives a short distance away, and you could smell the honey in the air.
As always, we didn’t see everything because the park is so big, but we got to fly through most of it in a couple of hours. If you really wanted to take in everything there, it would take a full day, and I am sure you would still miss something. Even so, I highly recommend that you visit this world-class park. You will not be disappointed.
Here are some other photos of the park for your enjoyment (click on any photo to view the slide show):
I was meeting with a customer last week and we were going over the details of the job and discussing the wood that I was going to use for their bookshelves – cherry, as you might have guessed. I was going on about how much I like cherry and was making sure to plug the fact that I mill my own trees. During our discussion, which was mostly me talking and him nodding, he asked,”Well, how big do cherry trees get?” I knew then that he was wondering what I was wondering when I started cutting trees. How do you get big boards from such little orchard trees? I explained to him that it wasn’t the type of cherry tree he was picturing. It was an American Black Cherry, which grows in the forest, mixed with other hardwoods. His next question was, “But, it doesn’t have cherries does it?” As a matter of fact it does. They aren’t big and they are in a cluster that looks like grapes, but they are fruit that birds love to eat, and they are definitely cherries. Then I thought and quickly asked, “Are you ready to be shocked? I bet that you have one right here in your yard and don’t even know it.” I wasn’t going too far out on a limb because I had just driven down a long gravel drive with upland hardwoods to get to his house. I hadn’t specifically spotted a cherry tree, but I could smell them (not literally).
As we talked more, our discussion went back and forth from the piece of furniture that I am going to make to the wood that I am going to use, and we talked more about how big the cherry trees get. I explained that they get big like any hardwood lumber tree, but are on the smaller end of the scale overall. An average log size in this area is about 14″-15″ in diameter, inside the bark, on the skinny end. However, it isn’t uncommon for them to be larger. The main problem with larger and older logs is that they tend to have punky/rotten areas in the center of the log, so many bigger logs don’t get milled. For fun (as always) and to prove that they get bigger than orchard trees, I thought I would share a few photos of my larger finds. Notice that we are not phased at all by the size of the larger logs. It’s routine for us.
By the way, as I left his property, I saw a couple of small cherry trees and I am sure that there are more.