For me, fall is the time of year when I think most about trees. Don’t get me wrong, spring’s early blooms and fresh green leaves just starting to fill the branches are beautiful, especially after a long winter of bare, gnarled branches bending from the weight of ice and snow outlining the grey sky. Summer trees, too, with cicadas whirring from their dense full branches. OK, now that I am thinking of it, I do love trees in any season. Fall is still my favorite! All the other seasons are acts in a play leading up to the final act… the grand finale on the fourth of July, the orchestra’s crescendo and the grand slam walk off home run to win the game! The array of colors that cover the landscape every fall are really Mother Nature’s finest fireworks!

It’s still a little early for the changing leaves, so on a recent trip to The Morton Arboretum, I took a walk through the conifers. It was a beautiful peaceful walk. Some of the trees tower overhead and some seemed to stretch out wider than they should. I wondered how old they were, how much they had lived through, how much they had seen.

According to The Morton Arboretum website, the oldest tree there is the Millenium Oak which is over 250 years old!

Some of the oldest living trees are thousands of years old!

  • General Sherman, a Giant Sequoia in Sequoia National Park in California, is believed to be around 2,500 years old!
  • The mighty Baobabs of Madagascar, mainland Africa and Australia can live to be over 1,000 years old.
  • The oldest living tree is believed to be a Great Bristle Cone Pine Methuselah growing in the White Mountains of Inyo County in eastern California at nearly 5,000 years old!

What stories these ancient trees could tell. It’s no wonder that people remain fascinated with trees!

Artists have long appreciated the wonder of trees. From season to season, a tree can be like an ever changing painting itself! Nature and trees in particular have been a favorite subject of some of the most famous paintings and painters. Sometimes as the subject and sometimes in the background, in nearly every art style and movement you will find trees.Gustav Klimt’s Beech Grove has trees that seems to stretch on forever. Piet Mondrian’s abstract The Grey Tree makes me think of a cold winter day. Vincent Van Gogh painted many trees—his swirly Mulberry Tree is one of my favorites. One of the last painting Van Gogh painted was Tree Roots. Its beautiful colors and detail are of the roots of a tree somewhere in Arles, France. Recently a postcard was discovered that seems to show the exact tree roots exposed that Vincent painted.

Beech Grove by Gustav Klimt

The Grey Tree by Piet Mondrian

Mulberry Tree by Vincent Van Gogh

Tree Roots by Vincent Van Gogh

Writers have also been fascinated by trees. From the Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein to The Wish Tree by Kathrine Applegate, so many books about the magic and wonder that trees represent.

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree”—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches. Along with a crow named Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this wishtree watches over the neighborhood. You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red’s experience as a wishtree is more important than ever.

Find It Now

Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel and Illustrated by David Catrow

In a letter to his children, a father recounts memories of the role Steve, the tree in their front yard, has played in their lives.

Find It Now

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

A young boy grows to manhood and old age experiencing the love and generosity of a tree which gives to him without thought of return.

Find It Now

20 Ways to Draw a Tree and 44 Other Nifty Things from Nature by Eloise Renouf

This motivational illustration book is part of the new 20 Ways series from Quarry Books, designed to offer artists, designers, and doodlers a unique collection of fun and sophisticated exercises. Each spread features 20 illustrations of a single item, such as a tree, tulip, shell, owl, peacock feather, mushroom, cloud or berry.

Find It Now

Sky Tree: Seeing Science through Art by Thomas Locker

A tree stands on a hill by a river. As the sky changes, so does the tree, its branches filling with clouds, stars, snow, birds, mists, and the golden spring sun. One tree can mean many things.

Find It Now

Poetree by Shauna LaVoy Reynolds and illustrated by Shahrzad Maydani

A shy girl celebrates winter’s end by writing a poem to a tree and is surprised when the tree writes back.

Find It Now

Here inside the library, we have many art pieces celebrating the beauty of trees. You can take our virtual art tour, or better still, see them in person next time your visit!

What is it about trees? The beauty for sure, but maybe it’s also that a secret world of birds, bugs, leaves and flowers live in its branches. Perhaps it is the fact that something we see every day can still fill us with joy. There is a magic and a wonder in all trees from the mighty redwood to the simple silver maple growing in every suburban lawn. There is a towering magical world that is right above our heads.