Saturday, 5 November 2011

Saturday Photo: Dawn Redwood in the Cemetery

The redwoods and giant Sequoias of California were the mythic trees of my youth. Both the variety that grows in the Sierra Nevada and the one native to the coastal ranges were awe-inspiring, while walks in the groves were they grow remain exceedingly pleasant memories.

At one point I tried to start a coast redwood here from seed, but had no luck. It would appear that more astute gardeners than I also have trouble: a quick search of the Jardin botanique web site shows only a listing for redwood used as bonsai.

But the tree's long-lost anscester, the dawn redwood, will grow here. The Metasequoia had been known as a fossil dating from 100 million years ago, but ws assumed to be extinct. In 1944, however, a huge specimen--64 inches in diameter and 98 feet tall--was found in a temple courtyard in Central China. Subsequent searches found more in isolated Chinese mountain valleys. The seeds were brought back to North America in 1948 and planted in botanic gardens widely.

I'm not sure just when this specimen was planted, but it can be no older than 60 years old. It is more like a bush at this point, and it will be interesting to see at what point it shoots for the stars like the original find. Given our climate that may be a while, but in the meantime it is an elegant addition to the cemetery garden.

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