The Gentle Giants of Watts Tree Farm

There is something we all feel inside whenever we see some of the wonders of nature.   I am fortunate to have some of these wonders of nature in my woodlot and I would like to share them with you.  We all know about the Giant Redwoods of California and the big Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar of British Columbia but there are often some lesser know giants in our own area. There are few of these lesser known but still magnificent beauties growing in Kilmuir, Prince Edward Island.

These large trees have inspired me to think more about how I should be managing my woodlot.  If these few trees can grow this big on their own then we can certainly grow some very large trees if we truly want to manage our forest to grow large trees.  Of course this means that the time frame for management will cover centuries not decades.  But lets save the discussion for management for another day.  In this issue of my blog I want us to all just enjoy the true beauty of these gentle giants.

Eastern Hemlock tree. One of several in this small grove of long-lived trees.

There is a grove of Eastern Hemlock that surround and protect a small spring.  I don’t have an exact age on these trees but based on some other hemlocks cut in the area it’s a pretty safe bet to say these trees are between 300 and 350 years old.  This would mean that these trees were new seedlings when North America was being first settled!  These trees have lived through the ages of settlement and discovery of almost every thing that has happened in our modern history of North America.  This is truly amazing to think of.  When I walk through this small stand of trees I can’t help but wonder, who else has walked among these trees?  Did early settlers camp near this stream in the shade of these very same trees, only they were much smaller then?  Ah, if only trees could talk.

These trees are getting older now and many are at the end of their life span.   Strong winds and storms are taking some of them now.  But there are some replacements in the wings.  Young babies perhaps only 50 or 60 years old ready to begin to fill in the gaps created by the passing of some of these majestic trees.  Yes there is sadness to see one of these trees lay down but it is the way of nature.  It will probably take another century before one of the blowdowns is reduced to its smallest elements ready to be used to support new trees.  But in the meantime it will support other life.  Homes for wildlife and insects and a spot for moss and fungi to grow.

This Eastern White Pine is the largest tree in the woodlot.

One of the other gentle giants and the largest of the trees in the woodlot is an Eastern White Pine.  There are a couple of these scattered in the woodlot.  Again they show how big trees can grow in our area.  We don’t need to grow trees this big but it is nice to know that we can.  These pines grow very tall and when seen from a distance they are noticeably many meters above the surrounding trees.   They must be very strong trees with deep roots to withstand the force of the winds that they must have felt over the years.  To be this much taller than the other trees and to have survived recent hurricanes shows just how strong and resilient the trunks of these trees must be.   White Pine tend to grow more quickly than Eastern Hemlock so I don’t think the pine trees in the woodlot are as old as the hemlocks.  However, to get to the size of these few White Pine must have taken at least a couple of hundred years.

The third giant in the woodlot is a Sugar Maple.   These are probably less spectacular than the hemlocks and pines but still there are some very nice large maples in the forest.  There is a large stand of mixed maples and a few other species at the back of the woodlot.  This is the area where the Barred owls like to nest.  So for me keeping a good stand of larger trees is important.

This Sugar Maple has been around for a long time. It is a great example of what can grow in the forests in our area.

There is just something about big trees that draws our attention and our imagination.  Although these few examples are not the biggest trees of their kind in the region they happen to be the biggest in Watts Tree Farm.  They have inspired me to think long-term in managing the forest.  It continues to be my pleasure to show you the many things that I see and enjoy in the woodlot.

Until next time, keep safe and well.

(click on any photo to get a larger image)

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