When we buried our lovely Smudge last week, we planted a special tree on top – a horse chestnut that will grow big and strong and one day, we will sit under its shade and remember our special cat and her funny ways.
But that is not the only special tree we have planted at Innisfree recently.
For our Shinrin Yoku (Forest Bathing) practice, we are slowly planting in a pinetum. This is a specialized collection of evergreens and conifers that will form a grove where we can sit among them, imbibing their medicine and soaking up the phytoncides they emit – the volatile terpenes that generate the healing effects in our bodies.
Some of the other evergreens we have planted recently include:
Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta), the classic shore pine of the pacific northwest.
Nordmann Fir (Abies nordmanniana), a species that pre-dates the last ice, originally from the Caucus mountains.
Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris), my personal favorite as it reminds me of my home land.
While not a true conifer, the Japanese Umbrella Pine (Sciadopitys verticillata) is one of the oldest tree types on earth; this species is the only remaining member of its family and genus. An ancient relatives of this tree is a major component of Amber. The Japanese name is Koya-maki and it is considered a sacred tree. Rubbing the tree is believed to help conceiving babies and in parts of Japan, people place koyamaki branches on the graves of their loved ones in order to lead the spirits back to the land of the living.
Korean Fir (Abies koreansis) has amazing that are almost blue. Of all the conifers, this is the one that emits the most phytoncides and is revered in Asian Shinrin yoku practice.
It is not only evergreens we have been planting either.
More trees and shrubs have found their home at Innisfree
There is a new weeping willow placed into a damp spot near the Victory vegetable garden, where we hope it will grow fast to make a beautiful, shady, sitting spot.
There is a Black locust or False Acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia) near the edge of the south meadow, where it’s lacy, bright yellow/green foliage will be contrasted against the cedars growing up behind it.
Three sweetgale or bayberry (Myrica gale) bushes are tucked into the side of the pond. This native species has a sweet resinous scent and is a traditional insect repellent. Used in soaps and macerated oils, it can also be dried and smouldered to make an insect repellent smoke. This plant is traditionally included in wedding bouquets of the Royal family.
Three Forsythia bushes are planted on the side of the new lawn area, to give us early spring colour. Some people prune these to balls or spheres, but we shall let them grow naturally with long flexible branches lifting to the sky. This plant is a treatment for fevers and infections in traditional Chinese medicine.
Planting trees is truly a vote for the future; part of our pleasure in planting them is knowing that our grandchildren will be enjoying them in years to come.
And on a final note, I’d like to share with you one of my favourite poems about trees by Alfred Joyce Kilmer
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.