Friday, April 12, 2019

News of My Old Tree Friend & Two New Ones

A lovely spring day in Laramie, Wyoming. 

Though spring has officially arrived, I knew I wouldn’t find any visible changes in the two trees I’m following. Here in the continental interior at 7200 feet elevation, it’s too early for flowers or leaves on trees. But there is one exception—the American pussy willow, Salix discolor. So before I checked on the trees by the art building, I walked up “Willow Canyon” just east of town to see how the willow was doing.

I discovered this willow on a hike in late February, 2015. Catkins were already emerging! Just the tips were visible, but still I was astonished, and chose the willow as the tree to follow that year. And of course it soon became “my willow” … trees are that way.
A full healthy canopy; August 2015.
I still visit my willow periodically. It's a beautiful tree when fully leafed out, but last August I discovered to my horror that all the leaves were dead! It was much too early for annual leaf fall, so I presume it was because of our drought. “What does this mean?!” I was worried

 … and I was really happy yesterday when I found it covered in catkins :-)
Willow standing behind two junipers.
Tiny white dots are catkins, not snow.
A few dead leaves still hang on ... imagine the canopy full of these!
Occasionally the sun broke through the clouds, making the catkins shine.
These catkins are not as far along as those of April 2015 (below). I'm not surprised. We're having a cool snowy spring. But snowy is fine—we need the moisture.
April 2015.
By the time we got back to the car, the snow had stopped and the sun was out, lifting my spirits even more. Off to the art building!

The late afternoon sun partially lit the two trees I'm following this year, highlighting their beautiful bark. As I suspected, I found no clues as to identity. The buds didn't help (do you recognize them?)
Next I visited the castle ... still no signs of residents. Maybe they're snug and warm inside, and haven't bothered to shovel the walkway.
The woman standing by the entrance last month was still there. And not even shivering!
Nor was I, but my hands were cold after taking photos (no gloves), so I went inside to enjoy the artwork. Student exhibitions change monthly, which is nice for a tree follower. I took photos of a piece I found especially appealing—something about the color and form.
Lattice by Donatellia Austin, 2018; Paper, Fabricated Steel.

I wondered if anyone would tell me not to photograph the artwork, but the few people who walked by said nothing, didn't even glance my way. Then I looked up and realized ... I was being watched!

For more tree-following news, see April's virtual gathering kindly hosted by The Squirrelbasket. And again, thanks to Lucy Corrander who started the whole wonderful business years ago.


  1. I remember your willow tree, sorry to hear it also suffered last summer, not a good summer for some willows it seems, the fluffy buds of the catkins look gorgeous,
    I looked at the woodland trust twig ID chart and the only buds that look like your photo are hawthorn which it can't be as the mature bark is different and there are no thorns! the ID chart is for native British trees though,
    that piece of art work is interesting, the colours and way it hangs down it reminds me of lacy seaweed,

    1. Frances, you might be right about hawthorn as they are popular landscaping trees here. Maybe there is a cultivar with no thorns. If I have time, I will look for a winter id chart for my next visit. I suppose it might have leaves by then, but hard to believe at the moment.

  2. Fascinating information and pictures - and wide-ranging as usual.
    Love the watchers!
    All the best until next time :)

    1. Thanks, Pat. Art-following makes up for our currently monotonous tree-following. I don't know if there will be exhibits during the summer break, but by then the trees will be busy.

  3. The statue looks very cold. I'm glad to hear there are some signs of spring in your neighborhood, though. We're having a yo-yo spring--even more so than usual. Cold, then warm, then cool, then cold, and now back to normal warmish for the next few days. Many plants are blooming or just about to bloom. Happy spring!

    1. Beth, I agree ... she should be inside! That's classic Laramie -- people out pretending it's spring.

  4. I like the head looking down on you!
    It's interesting how once one has spent a year observing a tree it never really lets you go.

    1. So true, Lucy! Tree-following has been a blessing for me actually, a world that makes sense.