I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mount is prest

Against the sweet earth’s 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.

–Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

 We have, over the past two or three years, had the privilege of visiting many of our National Parks and some other worthy sites in our vast and beautiful country. I’m not a loco-tree-hugger, but I have become a huge fan and I appreciate the necessity of keeping as many as proves to be healthy for them.

 This is my holiday blog. It is not about Christmas trees, as beautiful as they are, but a note to honor the creator of these magnificent living partners in His world.

 I begin with my most recent trip to visit Pearl Fryar. Topiary Artist. In Bishopville, SC Mr. Fryar has spent his life creating this garden from a corn field. It was featured once on CBS Sunday Morning and I was spellbound. I never dreamed I would see it, let alone meet the sculptor. He is ageing, but still the strongest and most agile person I have met older than me. He has started to hire help and has started a foundation to carry on his work.


ODD TREES:  A few odd ones we move to next:  a work of art called a singing tree, a tree with wonderfully shaped root system, a frozen tree archway and a shoe tree we saw in Montana.  I have no idea what the purpose of the shoes in the tree were.  I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a picture of a tree with such unusual fruit.



SEQUOIA:  These majestic giants are native to our west coast.  A few have been moved to other continents during the Victorian era, before the environmental protection laws were written.  These laws are meant to save other trees from un-native insect pests.  A good Idea.  Sweet Husband is standing in front of one exported to Scotland over a hundred years ago.  It is still quite young.  These trees live to over 2,000 years making them the oldest organism on our planet.  Pictures cannot capture their grandeur.


Banyan Tree:  These trees are characterized by their aerial prop roots that grow into thick woody trunks, which can become indistinguishable from the main trunk with age. Old trees can spread out laterally, using these prop roots to cover a wide area. In some species, the effect is for the props to develop into a sort of forest covering a considerable area, every trunk connected directly or indirectly to the central trunk. The topology of this structure of interconnection inspired the name of the hierarchical computer network operating system Banyan Vines.

This photo was taken at Edison’s summer home in Florida.  It covers an acre of ground.

When near the Edison & Ford Winter Estates' west entrance, see t

REDWOOD:  Superlatives abound when a person tries to describe old-growth redwoods: immense, ancient, stately, mysterious, powerful. Yet the trees were not designed for easy assimilation into language. Their existence speaks for themselves, not in words, but rather in a soft-toned voice of patience and endurance.  I can only express my reaction in tears of gratitude to my wonderful creator.

Exactly why the redwoods grow so tall is a mystery. Theories continue to develop but proof remains elusive. The trees can reach ages of 2,000 years and regularly reach 600 years.

Resistance to natural enemies such as insects and fire are built-in features of a coast redwood. Diseases are virtually unknown and insect damage insignificant thanks to the high tannin content of the wood. Thick bark and foliage that rests high above the ground provides protection from all but the hottest fires


Monterey Cedar: These are medium-sized coniferous evergreen tree, which often becomes irregular and flat-topped as a result of the strong winds that are typical of its native area along the pacific coast of California. It grows to heights of up to 40 meters (133 feet) in perfect growing conditions, and its trunk diameter can reach 2.5 meters (over 8 feet). The foliage grows in dense sprays which are bright green in color and release a deep lemony aroma when crushed.  I fell in love with their wind-shaped beauty


Live Oaks:  As a resident of the deep south, all of my life, these magnificent trees never fail to make my heart stop each time I see one.  They do not become lovely until they are at least 100 years old.  The trees below are 300 to 500 years old.  They lose their leaves in the spring when the new leaves push out last years leaves.  Therefore they are evergreen and probably why they gained the name LIVE.

Lodgepole pine cone, Pinus contorta, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

This is the cone of the Lodge Pole Pine.  The seeds are naturally glued in and can only be dislodged by fire.  The forest are dense and as far as the eye can see in most areas of Montana and Wyoming.

Flora and Fauna: Ireland and Scotland

Sweet husband and I had the opportunity to visit a Christian mission in Scotland to explore the possibility of working with them.  We found a flight “deal” that included a week in Ireland with B&B accommodations and a rental car at the same price as flights from the US to Scotland, naturally we purchased that.  We had a week in Ireland and two weeks at the mission in Scotland.

I have (following) some beautiful shots of flora and fauna in both places.  A brief review of both is also offered.

Ireland:  The land of my forefathers.  If you fly into Dublin, I do not recommend a rental car for several reasons.  Join a tour group.  WHY?  I’m glad you asked.

(1)  The rental cars are mostly manual shift, which is not totally difficult except one has to do it with the right hand because one is driving on the wrong side of the road.  One can get automatic transmission, but there is an additional cost.  Driving on the wrong side of the road is a challenge.

(2)  The cities are very crowded.  They are old cities with 2 lane roads and THOUSANDS of bicycles and pedestrians [imagine NYC or LA with two lane cobblestone roads or just go to Boston and try driving on the wrong side of the road].

(3)  The country side is lovely [what you can see of it from the small car], but there are very high stone or hedge walls on either side of the narrow roads.  There is no room to pull over to try to see over the walls either.  The GPS the rental care company rented us didn’t work [our experience may have been slightly better had this not been the case].  All the Bed and Breakfast have no addresses like we are accustomed to in the US.  They are located by longitude and latitude coordinates.  Due to the kindness of the people we encountered each day, we found or were led to our accommodations.

(4) Once we started driving toward Galway, the walls disappeared.  Sheep roamed freely, we could see the beautiful countryside and this made our trip most enjoyable!  There is a National park past Galway called Connemara National Park.  If you go to Ireland, do not miss this.  Also don’t miss the Cliffs of Moher.

The Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher

Kitty Topiary at Belfast Castle Garden

Kitty Topiary at Belfast Castle Garden

Queen Eleizabet Rose in the Botanical Park in Belfast

Queen Elizabeth Rose in the Botanical Park in Belfast

Connemara National Park

Connemara National Park

Blackfaced Sheep

black-faced Sheep

????? Wild Flower at Blarney Castle

????? Wild Flower at Blarney Castle

Atlas Cedar:  Magnificant

Atlas Cedar: magnificent

All the Swans in the UK are owned by the Queen of England.  This one is in Ireland, so she is free.

All the Swans in the UK are owned by the Queen of England. This one is in Ireland, so she is free.

Scotland:  Exploring the possibility of mission work.  We spend two weeks in Dumbarton at the mission site with our hosts.  The mission site is located in a 150 year old, abandoned estate.  The missionaries have spent several years restoring it and getting it ready for the mission’s residents; a large place is needed.

Our hosts took us for a two day trip to the Isle of Skye.  This is a must see area of Scotland.  Sweet Husband and I took a day trip via train to Edinburgh.  This is another must see.

I was either allergic to something within the walls of the mission or I caught a head cold in route as I was sick the entire time we visited.

The former owners of this estate planted many exotic trees, one being a Sequoia.  It was at one time the country estate of a wealthy Scotsman.  It was hundreds of acres and enjoyed a beautiful Victorian Garden.  Only the magnificant trees have survived the years of neglect in the garden.

We left knowing we are not a good fit for this mission, but remain open to exploring the work God has for us the balance of this life.

The richness of the forest floor across from the mission/estate.

The richness of the forest floor across from the mission/estate.



Falls on the way to Skye

Falls on the way to Skye

Cliffs on the ocean

Cliffs on the ocean

Sheep sheltered from the wind on Skye

Sheep sheltered from the wind on Skye

View from the top of the mission overlooking the front garden

View from the top of the mission overlooking the front garden

Atlas Cedar on mission property

Atlas Cedar on mission property