Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tree of Heaven ??????????????


Juan V took the photograph posted above (which features a partial view of my urban terrace garden) this past Thursday (July 14th 2011), when he was at my place to help me take down my short-lived Honeysuckle Vine. The lovely vine had produced beautiful flowers which I featured in a few blog entries, including one which you may refer to by clicking here. My Honeysuckle Vine enjoyed climbing up the bamboo trellis (the bamboo trellis sans my Honeysuckle Vine can be seen in the top right hand portio of the photograph) which Juan V had built for me this past May, by using bamboo stakes that I had accumulated from my gardening endeavors in by-gone years. This is a fact, dear reader, which you may recall from a previous post, and that you may refer to by clicking here.  

In any event, my lovely Honeysuckle Vine is now gone — a victim of mildewy powder — which we think was caused by the exhaust from a newly installed fan in the window of the building directly west of me, as I stated in my blog entry this past Thursday, and if you'd like, you may refer to it by clicking here

An advantage of container gardens, such as mine, is that while it is sad to lose anything that I grow, things can be pulled out fairly easily, and another advantage of a container garden is that the things that grow in them can be moved around to meet their changing needs (in terms of sunlight as the sun shifts throughout the season). However, the problem of man-made things, such as the neighboring buildings's exhaust fan, always makes the herbs, plants, flowers, vines, shrubs , and trees which grow in an urban garden vulnerable.
Man-made things are not the only hazard in a New York City terrace garden that present a problem. So-called gifts from Mother Nature can be just as hazardous, such as the Ailanthus tree, — a tree which is planted in all the "back yards" of the buildings that surround me, and a tree which is easy to recognize by its leaves which are pictured below. 

Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/words-in-our-beak/id1010889086?mt=11

Sometimes, the  Ailanthus tree, is referred to as The Tree of Heaven, for reasons unapparent to yours trulyI am not alone in my aversion for the Ailanthus tree. Ms. Karen Joyce Williams, an on-line editor, wrote about this tree in terms of its relationship to Betty Smith's 1948 young adult novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. In the novel, Smith (as on-line editor Williams points out), romanticizes the Ailanthus tree, making it "a symbol that floats through the novel" and using it as "a talisman in the eyes of the characters." However, Williams points out that, in fact, the Ailanthus tree is a very,"pervasive, strong-rooted interloper to the native landscape, elbowing, rooting, and edging out the hickory, sumac and ash trees" that are native to New York. (If you'd like to read Ms. William's full piece, please click here.)

Additionally — besides the Ailanthus tree's invasive nature — the web-worm pests that lurk on it build unsightly cob-like structures, which give it a sickly — even eerie —  quality, as in "Addams Family eerie", a "quality" that I discussed in a previous blog entry which I made in February of 2010, and that you may refer to by clicking here). This webby-appearance in its mild form can be seen in the photographs posted below.

Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/words-in-our-beak/id1010889086?mt=11

Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/words-in-our-beak/id1010889086?mt=11

Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/words-in-our-beak/id1010889086?mt=11

However, to give it its due, at one time, the Ailanthus tree, did provide me with the inspiration for one of my kaleidoscopic photographic art prints, Trees From My Balcony, which can be seen below,


Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/words-in-our-beak/id1010889086?mt=11

and which can be viewed more closely in the print collection pages of my web-site. where purchase information is available. I confess that I derived this inspiration from the Ailanthus tree, many, many years before I was a gardener, and I did not know about the disgusting, slimy worms that jumped from its pods, resting and nibbling on anything they could find in my beautiful garden, as evidenced in a "gotcha" photograph of one of the little worms on a leaf of my Paeonia suffruiticosa (Tree Peony).

Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/words-in-our-beak/id1010889086?mt=11

I am not the only one who once received inspiration from the Ailanthus tree only to later find out that the tree was perhaps not worthy of my creative endeavors. The Ailanthus tree, and my aforementioned sentiment regarding it, was expressed in the Henry James novella, Washington Square, set in the West Village of Manhattan, in New York City, in the mid-nineteenth century.

James writes, "The ideal of quiet and of genteel retirement, in 1835, was found in Washington Square . . . it was here that you took your first walks abroad, following the nursery-maid with equal step and sniffing up the strange odor of the  Ailanthus-trees which at that time formed the umbrage of the Square, and diffused an aroma that you were not yet critical enough to dislike it as it deserved." 

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