Patricia Temples Photography

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Archive for the month “February, 2020”

Trees and their Stories #2

Today I want to share my American Chestnut photos. American Chestnuts are rare today, having almost been decimated by the Chestnut Blight in the early part of the 20th Century. The blight, a fungal disease, was introduced into this country on a Chinese Chestnut tree brought into the Bronx in 1904. By 1906, 98% of the chestnuts in the Bronx were infected.

Over 100 years ago there were 4 billion chestnut trees in the U.S., many of them in the northeastern states. Within 40 years the trees disappeared. The loss of the American Chestnut was devastating to U.S. economy. It was used for building, furniture, fencing, and the nuts were food for wildlife and humans alike.

These photos of an American Chestnut were taken a couple of years ago in Virginia. I was with a member of the American Chestnut Foundation who had learned of the existence of a couple of small American Chestnuts. The trees were small and are being watched carefully members of the ACF.

American Chestnut Tree

Last June I visited a friend in Belgium who had a European Chestnut on the property where she and her husband were living. There is a huge difference between what I saw there and what I saw in Virginia. This is a healthy group of three trees with new growth and abundant chestnuts on the ground.

The American Chestnut Foundation is making efforts and great strides to create a blight-resistant tree. Read about this here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_chestnut

In Virginia, the Blue Ridge Parkway has split rail fences, many of them of chestnut wood. Old homesteads were built of chestnut logs, and in my own childhood home, there was a room with wormy chestnut paneling, virtually non-existent today. What a loss.

Trees and their Stories

I recently decided to start another project for an exhibit I will hang in the fall.  Trees came to mind, because I photograph them often, and some of them have great stories.  So, I am going to give you a preview of my plan.

The first tree that came to mind is one I photographed a number of years ago.  The shot was taken at sunset, facing the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.  Yes, the tree was dead.  But it had a history that it could have told if it had been alive.  I had to rely on the memories of local folks who know its significance.

Parrott Farm Schoolhouse Field

It is located on what is known in Greene County as the Parrott Farm.  At the site of the tree was a one-room schoolhouse where the Parrott children and others from nearby homes were educated in the early 1900s.  The locals refer to this as the Schoolhouse Field.  Two months after I made this image, a large storm blew it down.  Here is what remained.

Parrott Farm Schoolhouse Field after

Not far from this location is Westover United Methodist Church on land which was donated by the Parrott/Early families who owned the farm.  In 1913, the first wedding took place in that newly created church.  After the ceremony the bride took a sprig of hemlock out of her bouquet and planted it in the ground behind the church.  This Old Hemlock grew and remains on the property.

Westover view 3

Westover view 1

Another notable tree was new to me this past year. On a property now owned by Spring Hill Church, which is in Albemarle County, near the Greene County line, there was a tree that grew from a number of shoots, forming an interesing multi-trunked base. It was located near a resting place of the former owners of the farm, now donated to the church.

Not long after I made this image, a microburst, as described by nearby residents, split this tree in half. You can see the multiple trunks that created one tree, but which also led to instability in the storm. It was a big loss to the folks of this church who use this property for spiritual and recreational activities.

More on trees at another time. I wish I knew all of their stories.

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