BYGL Mail - November 25, 2016: Ginkgoes and All Trees Remembered

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  First things first: Remember that the Ohio Turfgrass Conference and the OSU Green Industry Short Course are coming soon (December 6-8), and are preceded by the OSU Trees on Tap program on December 5. Check it out:

  The program schedule is at:

  Register at:

  And now to ginkgoes – and trees – for our Thanksgivings.  From Kent Honl, arborologist (a term from the great John Lloyd lexicon) of Rainbow Treecare in Minnesota:

  Hello Jim,

  I enjoy the work you do through the Yard and Garden Line IPM reports.  I find the information very useful, even as I am up here in the tundra of Minnesota. Keep up the good work!

  I am also a big fan of Ginkgo biloba and enjoyed the piece you submitted on the species recently.  I would be interested in your thoughts on the conundrum that Ginkgo seems to be facing nowadays: the species has very limited presence in its original wild habitat, or may not even exist in the wild anymore.  Of course it is very common in cultivation throughout the world, but on one continent it is prized for its fruit, and on another the females are reviled for the same reason.  If the Ginkgo does not have a viable wild presence, it depends up on human cultivation to stick around- but the long term health of its gene pool will be compromised by the gender segregation on the continents.  If the boys and girls cannot get together and generate offspring somewhere, the diversity in the gene pool will dwindle over time.


ginkgo female cones



  Do you know of anyone anywhere who is allowing Ginkgo trees to cross-pollinate and behave in a wild simulated manner?  I have pondered this question for some years now.  If I had more resources at my disposal, I might try starting a Wild-Simulated Ginkgo Sanctuary…

   …As a student of German literature, I also appreciated the Goethe reference.  In fact, what started me in my work as an arborist was a book of Hermann Hesse’s writings given to me by one of my professors in college.  Check out this link for more about Hesse and trees:

   So, join Kent in his Ginkgo ponderings and plans. And following are some of Herman Hesse’s musings. Many 60s-70s longhairs will remember Hesse, not only as the recipient of the Nobel Prize but also as the lead guitarist of Steppenwolf of Born to be Wild  and Magic Carpet Ride fame (oh no – I have become one of those false news bloggers!). The writings below are from Hesse’s Tree Reflections and Poems, channeled in the Brainpickings  post.


ginkgo leaves on the ground


  For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

  Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

  A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

  A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

  When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. . . . Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

  A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

  So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.

  Plant more trees. And come to Trees on Tap on December 5!


sugar maple forest