Garry Oak captures the charm of western Oregon.
Centuries of cold winters, hot dry summers, winds and rain shape this
The twisted and gnarled
branches hold the mysteries of time past - the perfect oak for the northwest,
but increasingly rare in the wild.
They are found
on dry hillsides along the coast from BC to California and inland to the Sierra
Nevada in USDA zones 6-9.
They prefer full sun and
tolerate drought and harsh winds.
to 90,' Garry Oaks can live for 500 years.
leathery dark green leaves, 3 - 6," turn brown in the fall. The leaves are very
high in nutrients (especially phosphorous) and make exceptional mulch.
Nature is so amazing!
I was driving my beloved country roads a week or so
ago and as I went around a corner I looked up and saw this vignette in a
big old Garry Oak (Quercus garryana).
The leaves of green and bronze, the thick
luxurious texture of the moss contrasting with the lichen begged me to
reach up and run my fingers over it's surface.
Fortunately I came to my senses before I
attempted to climb that old tree. It would not have been very appropriate
in my business attire. But I had to take it's picture to share with you.
From Homepage July 7, 2005
Oak (Quercus garryana) is one of the most majestic of northwest
native trees. To stand beneath the cathedral of leaves and wonder at
the strength of those arms is to know true artistry. Imagine, then,
seeing that same oak from the skies above! The crowning canopy is
now a bit of lace, the branches but a dark curlique: a part of the
These unique photos were taken from the
window of a plane as it flew down the Willamette Valley, following a
path that was once a stand of Garry Oaks. The Oaks are now mostly
gone, cut down to make way for pasture land and corn fields and
In one shot we see two oaks that were spared the woodcutter's axe.
They were probably just little saplings at the time the land was
cleared and overlooked.
Or perhaps the farmer who used this field gave leeway to a fit of
serendipity, allowing these two to grow in memory of their hundreds of
ancestors that were put to other uses--firewood or tables and
chairs. The other photo shows the remaining remnant of the original
Try as I might, I couldn't get one
full shot of this tree so I took
From Homepage August 22, 2002
What could be more
noble than the oak tree? Our northwest native Garry Oak (Quercus
garryana) is also called Oregon White Oak, Garry's Oak, or Post Oak.
Beloved for centuries, honored in music and poetry, the mysterious
beauty of the gnarled branches, the leathery green of the leaves and
the magnificent spreading shape like mother nature's welcoming arms
is the stuff of which legends are borne. It is said that to carry an
acorn will help preserve youth.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
in Idylls of the King, Merlin and Vivien:
A storm was coming, but
the winds were still,
And in the wild woods of Broceliande,
an oak, so hollow, huge and old
It looked a tower of ivied masonwork,
At Merlin's feet the wily Vivien lay.
John Keats, On Sitting
Down to Read King Lear Once Again:
. . .When through the
old oak forest I am gone,
Let me not wander in a barren dream,
when I am consumed in the fire,
Give me new Phoenix wings to fly at
William Blake, from The
Old John, with white hair,
Does laugh away care,
Sitting under the oak,
Among the old folk.
They laugh at our play,
And soon they all say,
'Such, such were the joys
When we all--girls
and boys -
In our youth-time were seen
On the echoing green.'
And who can forget
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Belfry of Bruges and Other Poems,
The Arrow and the Song:
I shot an arrow into
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it
flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.
I breathed a song into
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so
keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?
Long, long afterward,
in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from
beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.
Photo at left by Walter Siegmund
From Igor Stravinsky's
Concerto in E-Flat for Chamber Orchestra "Dumbarton Oaks" to Les
Paul and Mary Ford bringing to exquisite life Cinco Robles (Five
Oaks) or the Celtic tones of Three Oaks, in more modern times
musical homage to the mighty oak is noted so casually in "Up a lazy
river" as we "linger in the shade of an old oak tree."
Original peoples called
this tree sacred to the god of thunder. When the white man came to
the northwest, some groves of oaks were said to be like parks. Many
of these groves are still to be seen throughout the northwestern
United States and into Canada.
Our northwest native
Garry Oak is so accommodating to it's neighbors in the grove, the
branches often intertwine to better share the sun. But the oak that
stands alone spreads it's branches wide as if in the sheer
exuberance of living. Ah, what lessons we could take from the noble