Posts filed under ‘American Chestnut’

Two “Babies” Meet

Dyson slept through the whole encounter, but when he was three weeks old he did get to meet one of my first “babies”.

Dyson, meet the American chestnut. American chestnut, meet Dyson.

Dyson - July 19th - First Visit to Chestnut
Dyson and our Restoration Chestnut from the American Chestnut Foundation – July 19, 2013

August 22, 2013 at 1:30 am Leave a comment

Happy 3rd Birthday, American Chestnuts!

Our Restoration Chestnuts from the American Chestnut Foundation were planted on June 17th and June 18th of 2010.  That means they celebrated their third birthday last month!  This year was particularly exciting because they got their first catkins this year. They are all grown up!

Like previous years, we celebrated with some photos.  Year 1, I was pregnant.  Year 2, my son Sagan posed with me.  Year 3, pregnant again.

American Chestnut - Birthday Tree and Vicky - Cropped
Year 1 – Pregnant
American Chestnut's 2nd Birthday - Sagan and Vicky
Year 2 – Not Pregnant

American Chestnut - Three Year Birthday
Year 3 – Pregnant Again
I look forward to posing for future photos with BOTH of my sons.  🙂


July 5, 2013 at 1:49 pm Leave a comment

Tree Sighting at the Breakfast Table

This morning, Ryan and I tag-teamed breakfast. Ryan got Sagan situated in his chair with a inventory of cereal and berries. Then when I got my groggy rear downstairs, Ryan ran back upstairs to shower.

I made myself some oatmeal and strawberries, grabbed some soy milk, and sat down next to the little boy who immediately put his spoon down and started to enthusiastically point.

“TREE! TREE!” he shouted proudly. He was very clearly pointing right at…ME!

Well, I may start the 3rd trimester tomorrow, but I’m not definitely not THAT big, at least not yet, so I was a little confused.

Then I looked down.

It turns out I had slept in a shirt from the American Chestnut Foundation. Only I had put it on backwards (Hey, I’m not superwoman. I can’t mother, work, and be bothered with frivolous details like what direction my clothes are on. Hehe). As a result, a beautiful botanical drawing by artist Bruce Lyndon Cunningham was on my chest.

American Chestnut Botanical Drawing By Bruce Lyndon Cunningham

I smiled. “You’re right, Sagan. That is a tree!!!”

“TREE!” Sagan agreed.

With that, we resumed our breakfasts and had a most delightful Friday morning.

April 19, 2013 at 9:23 am 1 comment

Happy 2nd Birthday, American Chestnuts!

Our Restoration Chestnuts from the American Chestnut Foundation were planted on June 17th and June 18th of 2010.  That means they celebrated their second birthday earlier this week! 

Like last year, we celebrated with some photos!  Due to the long approval and construction process with our new home, the trees had to winter another year in pots. Luckily, they had an extremely mild winter to contend with.

American Chestnut's 2nd Birthday - Sagan Smiles by Pot
Sagan with American Chestnut

In last year’s photo I was 5 1/2 months pregnant:

American Chestnut - Birthday Tree and Vicky - Cropped
June 18, 2011

This year, I have an 11 month old son!!!

American Chestnut's 2nd Birthday - Sagan and Vicky
June 18, 2012

The tree we are posing with is over my head this year, but it does have a little boost from the new pot it is in. : )

This should be the last birthday picture of the tree in a pot. I look forward to seeing how both the tree and my son grow in the coming years!

June 23, 2012 at 11:22 pm Leave a comment

American Chestnut – Identification by Catkins

In May of 2008, Wayne Bowman of the Virginia Department of Forestry surprised me when he said winter was a great time to find American chestnuts. I was skeptical because the trees would be missing their leaves, but eight months later, I saw how right he was when some dark, blighted bark drew my eye to chestnuts near Mountain Lake.

At McAfee’s Knob last weekend, Ryan and I were able to spot a American chestnut from a distance thanks to another part of their anatomy– their catkins. We were up at the Southeast section of the Knob (the side facing Roanoke Airport). Looking East, we saw this:

McAfee's Knob - Chestnut Oak AND Behind It-- Catkins Give Away American Chestnut
One of the Many Rocks at the Top

In the foreground is a Chestnut Oak. But it was what was behind it that caught our attention. Back by the rocks– catkins.

McAfee's Knob - Blooming American Chestnut
Catkins By The Rocks

The passage was a little too tight for the pregnancy belly, but thin Ryan went closer to investigate.

McAfee's Knob - Ryan in Pursuit of Blooming American Chestnut
Ryan in Pursuit of Possible Chestnut

And we were right! The flowers were from an American chestnut blooming at the top of McAfee’s Knob on June 26, 2011.

McAfee's Knob - American Chestnut Catkins at Top (By Ryan Somma)
American Chestnut Catkins from McAfee’s Knob (Photo by Ryan Somma)

It goes to show that the more you know about a tree, the more it is going to stick out!

July 5, 2011 at 1:00 am 3 comments

More McAfee’s Knob Shots

The pregnant hiking shot I shared yesterday was definitely my favorite of our McAfee Knob hike this past weekend. But, there were a lot of other wonderful memories of Sunday’s hike. Here are some more shots I fancy.

The first time I visited McAfee’s Knob in 2003, I wrote in my journal that none of my other hikes prepared me for the view I would see at McAfee’s. We had great weather that day and the views did not disappoint.

McAfee's Knob - Knob and Tinker Cliffs
View – That’s Tinker Cliffs in the Background

McAfee's Knob - Vicky and Ryan
Me (33 Weeks) and Ryan at the Top – That’s Tinker Cliffs in the Background

McAfee's Knob - Ryan at Top.
Ryan at Top

In addition to lizards and millipedes, we saw a couple of deer, one with a surprisingly low flight distance.

McAfee's Knob - Millipede (By Ryan Somma)
Millipede (Photo by Ryan Somma)

McAfee's Knob - Deer (By Ryan Somma)
Deer in Powerline Field (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Flora – American Chestnuts
Along the way, we spotted four American chestnuts of decent sizes. There was one at the top of the knob that was flowering.

McAfee's Knob - American Chestnut Leaves From Below (By Ryan Somma)
American Chestnut Leaves From Below

McAfee's Knob - Switchback Chestnut Leaves From Below
An American Chestnut On the First Switchback After the Fireroad Intersection

McAfee's Knob - American Chestnut Catkins at Top (By Ryan Somma)
American Chestnut Catkins at Top

More pictures of our maternity visit to McAfee’s Knob are available on my Flickr site.

Additional Links:
My Other McAfee Knob Posts
Virginia Appalachian Trail License Plate with McAfee’s Knob

July 1, 2011 at 1:00 am 2 comments

Happy Birthday, American Chestnut

Our Restoration Chestnuts from the American Chestnut Foundation were planted on June 17th and June 18th of 2010. That means they celebrated their first birthday this past week! I took this opportunity to pose with my largest birthday tree (who is getting acclimated to my new front yard where it’s going to be planted!!!). It’s leaves are now chest-height on a 5’5″ pregnant lady.

American Chestnut - Birthday Tree and Vicky - Cropped
Birthday Chestnut and Pregnant Vicky

Happy Birthday Chestnuts!!!! XXX OOO XXX

June 21, 2011 at 1:00 am 2 comments

American Chestnuts in Tumwater, Washington

After our wonderful hike at Cougar Mountain, Ryan and I enjoyed a delicious lunch at Yea’s Wok in Newcastle, Washington. Then we headed south to an atypical tourist destination– The Mills and Mills Funeral Home and Memorial Park in Tumwater, Washington.
Tumwater Washington American Chestnuts - Home Sweet Home
Our Tourist Destination

We were led there by a small snippet from a Discover Magazine article, I had read in 2004 entitled “Return of the King of Trees“. This article was my very first exposure to the American chestnut. It’s safe to say the article made an impact on me… and in said article, they just happened to mention “the largest healthy American chestnut in the United States” resided in Tumwater in what used to be called Olympic Memorial Park.

It took a few Google searchs and a phone call to track the trees down, but Ryan and I found them! I think makes us “Tree Stalkers”.

Tumwater Washington American Chestnuts - Discover Magazine Picture With Chestnuts in Background
Successful Tree Stalking Empowered by Android and

At first our visit seemed ill-timed. As soon as we arrived at Mills and Mills, a large rainstorm started. We still got out and took some pictures. Then Ryan suggested we get some hot chocolate at one of the state’s many, many, many Starbucks. By the time we finished indulging, the weather had cleared and we got more pictures.

Tumwater Washington American Chestnuts - Wet Ryan
Wet Ryan Back in the Car

Tumwater Washington American Chestnuts - Ryan and Chestnuts
Ryan and the Chestnuts

Back home in Virginia, our baby chestnuts got their first spring leaves on March 25th and were sporting large leaves when we left for our trip. In Tumwater Washington, however, the leaves were just getting started on May 12th.

Tumwater Washington American Chestnuts - Baby Leaves and Moss in Sun
Baby Leaves

Tumwater Washington American Chestnuts - Blue Sky and Green Baby Leaves
Baby Leaves and the Sky

Although there wasn’t any sign of the chestnut blight, the trees have had their challenges. On February 28, 2001, they would have weathered a 6.5 earthquake that hit the Olympia area. Since the publication of the Discover Magazine article, the larger of the two trees appears to have lost a branch. They also didn’t seem to have grown that much in the last seven years.

Tumwater Washington American Chestnuts - Broken Branch
Broken Branch

Tumwater Chestnuts - Compare
Top: James Balog’s Collage for the May 2004 Discover Magazine
Bottom: Chestnuts on May 12, 2011

One thing I very much enjoyed about these trees is they show the same hospitality to ferns and moss and lichen as do the indigenous Washington state trees. The chestnuts blended right in with their community. When in Rome….

Tumwater Washington American Chestnuts - Chestnut in Rain
The Tumwater Chestnuts are Home to Moss and Ferns

Two weeks earlier, Ryan and I were near where the Chestnut blight was first discovered. That day 3000 miles away in Tumwater, we got to see two trees that escaped the blight’s wrath. It may not be your usual tourist destination when in the Seattle/Tacoma area, but it’s a worhwhile one!

More pictures of the Tumwater American Chestnuts can be found on my Flickr site.

June 7, 2011 at 1:00 am 6 comments

The New York Botanical Garden – Overview

After weeks of heavy work, Ryan and I took a couple of days off and had a long weekend in New York City. Friday, April 29th, we visited The New York Botanical Garden which was impressive and huge. The New York Botanical Garden is sort of like the Ground Zero of the Chestnut blight. The blight was first discovered in chestnuts growing in the adjacent Bronx Zoo. It was a mycologist from The New York Botantical Gardens, William Murrill, who uncovered the cause.

One of my favorite parts of the gardens is the large section of native forest they have preserved. In the Appalachians, the chestnuts are ever hopeful. When the blight kills the tree’s trunk, the roots send off a new shoot and tries again. Having seen so many examples in the Appalachians, I fully expected to see some baby chestnuts in the native forest section, still giving it another go a century later. Alas, I didn’t see any.

That doesn’t mean I left the park disappointed! There was so much to see and absorb. We were there at a good time to see a lot of blooms – cherries, daffodils, tulips, crabapples. And I learned a number of new trees, especially maples.

Some shots from the day:

New York Botanical Gardens - Austrian black pine (Pinus nigra ssp. nigra)
I loved the bark of this Austrian Black Pine (Pinus nigra ssp. nigra)

New York Botanical Gardens - Caucasian wingnut (Pterocarya fraxinifolia) Bark and Leaves
Caucasian wingnut (Pterocarya fraxinifolia) – Ryan calls this one “The Rush Limbaugh Tree” : )

New York Botanical Gardens - Conservancy
The Conservatory

New York Botanical Gardens - Dead and Alive Version of Leaf
I liked how you could see what this dead leaf was supposed to look like.

New York Botanical Gardens - Norway maple (Acer platanoides) Leaf
One of the new maples I was introduced to – Norway maple (Acer platanoides)

New York Botanical Gardens - Pink Pinecone (Far)
I loved this flower because it looked like a big pink pinecone.

New York Botanical Gardens - Silhouettes On Orange Gyro (Heliconia latispatha) Leaf
Silhouettes on Orange Gyro (Heliconia latispatha) Leaf

I have some more posts on the gardens to come. In the meantime, more pictures of our visit to The New York Botanical Garden can be found on my Flickr site.

May 18, 2011 at 1:00 am 3 comments

Spring….According to the Chestnuts and Pawpaws

When Ryan and I moved, we of course brought along all our potted American chestnuts and a selection of potted pawpaws.  Our baby trees were the very first thing that got unpacked!  When we left Elizabeth City (February 27th) most of the chestnuts were sporting fresh buds, but the pawpaws were still solidly dormant.

On March 25th, we had our first American chestnut leaf sighting of 2011! (The leaves are much bigger now)

First Baby Chestnut Leaf - March_25_2011
Aww… First Chestnut Leaf for 2011

The pawpaws were a little further behind. Their first leaves showed up on April 1, 2011. Slackers. : )

May 17, 2011 at 1:00 am 2 comments

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