Friday, September 11, 2009

Ginkgo Tree

By Skeeter
Ah, the fond memories I have of growing up in that old Farmhouse outside of downtown in Clarksville, Tennessee. In this picture dated around 1981 or so, you can see the front porch filled with plants. You can see my grandmothers iris to the front of the house. You can see some sort of bowling ball statues at the stairs entry that I know Tina will find interesting. As I pick up limbs on the ground from high winds here in my Georgia Garden, I cannot help but think of one of my favorite trees from that old house. You see the naked branches of that tree in this winter picture. Wow, they don't have snow falls like this any longer in that area. This pic was around late 70's.
With time, the house was sold and became an apartment dwelling loosing its appeal to the eye. The Iris have been buried over with cement, the porch is gone as are the interesting Bowling Ball entry to the steps. Sigh, that is the way it goes at times. Nothing remains the same. Or does it? Look at that Green Tree standing tall after all these years! I snapped this picture when home on a recent visit. About 30 years later and she still stands tall.

This is a Ginkgo Tree or Ginkgo Biloba. It has no close relative and is known as a Living Fossil. The Ginkgo is from China where they may grow well over 100 feet tall and live to be thousands of years old. A 3,000 year old Ginkgo is said to be in the Shandong Providence of China.

Note: The tree to the right (in the picture above this one) is a Walnut Tree that either my dad or his foster brother planted in the 50's.
The leaves of the Ginkgo are fan shaped. I have seen these leaves on fossils in the Smithsonian Museum and also on the lawn of the White House in Washington DC where one is currently growing. A Google Search on the Ginkgo tells me the female tree has fruit and also a bad odor. Our tree must have been a male tree as it had no foul odor or fruit.
Here are a couple of pictures I snapped back in 1978 of the tree in fall. Even as a teenager, I was snapping pictures of such things never knowing I would one day be writing a blog about it. Funny how that works...
The leaves turn a Bright Yellow which is an understatement. I think the tree is turned to Gold. Then within a few days, all the leaves fall to the ground as if overnight! They are very heavy leaves to rake and I sure did my share of raking them as a child. Glad I don't have to rake them today! The only time I am home during fall is usually the third week of October to attend a Humane Society Benefit Ball so I am not lucky enough to see the Gold Tree as it is just starting to turn colors when I am there. As you can see the Jack-o-Lantern is in place in this old picture so Oct 31 was soon to be. So I am guessing the leaves fell just after Halloween.
Upon a closer look, I can see this poor tree has taken a beating over the years. It has been pruned a few times and someone has pounded Railroad looking spikes into the tree. I counted 6 before I got so upset that I had to stop counting.
I am not sure the reason why someone would do such a thing to a tree but I have two guesses. One is to climb the tree. Okay, I can see that as they were placed as if one may want to climb it. The second guess is to possibly kill the tree! Remember me saying those are heavy leaves to rake when they fall? Maybe the apartment tenants are responsible for the yard clean up and they don't like to rake leaves. Hum....
If they are trying to kill this tree with the spikes, I think it may take a bit more then spikes to kill it. After the Atom Bomb was exploded in 1945, only a few things were found living in the area and the Ginkgo tree was one of them. They are standing tall and are healthy today! In this above picture, you can see where the tree has healed itself from another form of damage.
Look at the size of that tree trunk. I don't know how old this tree is but it has been in this spot since the 50's.
Ginkgo's have been used as pharmaceutical purposes for Memory Loss, Concentration issues and Vertigo. It's use has been proven ineffective in Alzheimer's and Dementia studies.

It is depressing to see the once beautiful city Farmhouse I called home but soon my eye is taken up high to the GINKGO TREE, standing tall, In the Garden...
If you are ever in the area of Commerce Street just behind the Catholic Church around the end of October, look for the big glow in the sky!


  1. Wow! What a beautiful tree, Skeeter. I wish, wish I could have one up here because I love this tree and I don't blame you for being upset at the spikes, I would to, someone wasn't thinking! The fan shaped leaves are wonderful! Your grandmother's home was beautiful.

  2. I have always wondered what the Ginkgo Tree looked like. It's beautiful in every season. Memories.............are wonderful!
    Why is it the female always has fruit and bad odor, LOL...

  3. Skeeter,
    What a neat old tree! I have seen where people take the leaves and cover them in gold for necklaces, they are such a great shape. I like the progression of the pictures, isn't it good to have photos from long ago?

  4. WOW! What a beautiful home! It's so sad that they thrashed all the lovey Victorian details. You're right about the snow. It never snows THAT much! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Amazing tree! The photos show that your Farmhouse was so lovely during the time it was with your family.

    I went back to my grandmother's little cottage a few years ago. She started my interest in gardening. It had gone downhill and looked nothing like the sweet little bungalow with a flower-filled garden and big porch of my younger days. Yes, depressing.


  6. I'm sorry to see your old house turned into apartments but that tree is a monument. Ginkos are one of my favorite trees for fall color. I doubt the spikes will ever really hurt the tree. It's possible if someone removed them for insects or disease to move into the holes. I wish I had hat tree in our backyard!

  7. Hi Skeeter, I've seen a few small ones. Never one that large.

    That was a lovely old farmhouse. I hate it when people don't maintain and respect old houses and old trees too.

  8. Aah! So that's what I need to eat! I have all 3 problems ... memory loss, concentration issues AND vertigo :P :P :P

  9. Hi Skeeter, Great post about this grand tree. The family farm house adds so much charm. It is hard to go home....who was it that said you can never go home?
    In the West Point cemetary there is a very very mature Gingko, I think it would take three people holding hands to reach around it. Grand tree.

  10. That is one beautiful determined to survive tree! I want to hang a porch swing from a tree limb, but am concerned it will hurt the tree!...I can't imagine pounding railroad spikes into one!

    The house was beautiful...too bad, people have no taste or sense!


  11. Hi Skeeter, I love that house. All the Victorian work. It's very sad that all that is gone now.
    I like the Ginkgo leaves. So unusual. Don't know why anyone would drive those railroad spikes in that beautiful tree. I did notice in the 10th pic. that the tree trunk had a face that looks almost like a grimace of pain. Thank goodness that it has withstood all that has been put upon it & is thriving today.

    I wish for all to have a beautiful day.

  12. Oh my goodness, as I type I see a Doe and 3 Fawns working their way into my Flower Garden! Argggggg, but too cute to run off and things are about played out anyway so what the hey, they can enjoy themselves...

    Dawn, They are awesome trees and especially with their golden glow in the Fall. But the leaves are very difficult to rake so be careful what you wish. I dont know how some minds operate as to why someone would put the spikes in the tree. I think to climb it. That was home to my family for many years and I have fond memories for sure...

    Darla, Ah the memories of that old house being so cold in the winter and so hot in the summer but I loved it all the same. A home filled with love is a wonderful memory indeed. I think the female always gets the tough part of life, even the poor female Gingko tree :-)

    Rosey, I too have seen the gold leaves used as jewelry! As a child I would pretend they were little fans and fan myself with them. LOL. I was so happy to find that picture in my album of so long ago...

    Lzyjo, I was so tempted to knock on the front door and see if anyone would let me come inside but then again, I am glad I did not. I would rather remember the house as it was the last time I walked out the door. I am sure all the details from within are long gone just as the details on the outside. Sigh...

    Cameron, I try not to live in the past but do want to go back to my old stomping grounds when home. This was where my parents, brothers and grandmother called home for many years and now it looks so horrible to my eyes! No plants or anything from the past to remind me of my time there. Thank goodness for the Gingko and Walnut trees to give me memories! My other grandmother’s home is sad as well. Her Rose Garden is now covered by a huge Garage! All the tulip & iris beds are gone as is everything else. Thank goodness for my memories and few snap shots from the camera...

    Dave, The Ginkgos are awesome trees with their longevity as well as easy care. You are probably right about the spikes, Best they stay in place. You would really enjoy the shade this tree would be for your yard. You should plant one and it too will become a Monument some day! Be sure to plant it away from the house though. In this case, the tree was (in my opinion) too close to the house...

    Marnie, This Gingko is probably the largest one I have ever seen as well. I spotted several around the DC area which are large though and maybe run close in size. There are a lot of small ones here in our old downtown area so I still get to enjoy the gingko trees. The Saint and I see old house's all over the place and wish someone would restore them. They are a lost era as more and more are destroyed. So sad...

    Sunita, lol I was thinking the same thing when I saw that on the internet. But the studies contradict each other so not sure it is actually helpful or not. I have seen the Gingko in a vitamin form in the drug store though...

  13. Janet, Yes, it is so sad to go back home to see the changes. Change is not always good in my book. Sigh, Ah, but the memories will live on forever. If I am ever at West Point, I will be sure to look up that beautiful Gingko tree!

    Gail, I always wondered about swings hanging from trees as well. I always felt guilt for the time a boyfriend carved our initals in a tree and wondered if it killed the tree. LOL. Spikes takes a real nut case to pound into a tree. The man that bought the house, was only looking to make a buck and could have cared less about the character of the house. Very cheaply done too...Argggg...

    Lola, Good Morning and hope your eyes are healing on track! It is sad to see that old place which once stood out on the street. That street was full of neat houses such as this one but over the years, they have all faded away. So sad but the memories remain. I went back and looked at pic #10 and see the face! Looks kind of like moss making the look. I keep my eye on that tree often with home visits but wish to see it all gold again some day...

  14. Ginkgos are cool trees. There are a few in the village I admire and I've always wanted to plant one but never got around to it. I've got enough problems with deer in my yard and don't want to attract dinosaurs.

  15. It's beautiful! And I bet really really old since it takes a long time for these to grow. Last fall was the first time I ever noticed these gorgeous trees and you are so right-a big cloud of gold. That is a pretty nice house too. I still haven't gone and looked at it but one day soon.

  16. If it is any concellation, that tree will likely outlive the house, no matter how much it gets ruined. Maybe someone will come along and bring the house back to where it use to be. You can always hope.

  17. Oh boy Skeeter, that is one magnificence tree, along with the house. I am glad you did not knock on the door. I made the mistake of knocking on the door of the house I was brought up in. It had been a large house that was very old and my father had redone it all in mostly the way it was to start with (he did take out the tin ceilings and later they regretted that). The place was full of nice antiques. When later owners very proudly took me thru it I just wanted to cry. Everything was very empty and modern. I thought it was so ugly. I very seldom even ride by it now as I now know it has lost all the beauty and charm it once had.

  18. How cool that you have those old photos, Skeeter! I do love Ginkos and am amazed at the railroad spikes. Surely for climbing and not to kill it. Even then it seems so brutal! Love the jack o lantern on the porch, such a wonderful old house too.

  19. That is a gorgeous tree. I've never seen one so huge, I just love their leaves. It looks like it will stand up to everything, even those spikes.

  20. You must have been thrilled to see that Gingko tree still thriving there! I've seen quite a few small ginkos in NYC, but none that big - it's a beauty!

  21. I have those Ginkgo in a pot. They look so sweet with those small leaves ...

  22. Our weekend house guest just arrive. A 4-legged fur boy name Zip-Zip is going to call our house home for the weekend. Sheba is already meowing and Cheetah is hiding from the doggie. Should be an interesting weekend for sure....

    Wiseacre, I am glad you have Gingko’s in your area to enjoy. And yes, I know what you mean about those pesky but beautiful deer. I spotted 6 total in the Flower Garden this morning. Urg… Too funny your dinosaur remark...

    Tina, I am guessing the tree to be about 100 years old if not older. I think the house was built in the mid 1800's so an old one for sure. You should drive by it during late Oct to check it out in its golden state...

    Les, If I ever hit the big one, Lottery, I will be the one to bring the house back to its once beautiful self along with the few remaining on the street...

    Jean, It is so sad to think of things in their once glory state. I am glad I did not knock on the front door as I know it would have been such a disappointment for me. I am so blessed to have my memories for now...

    Frances, I too believe they were not trying to kill the tree but maybe wanting to explore the branches above! My brothers climbed the tree without the assistance of any spikes but I dont recall how they got up past the trunk, maybe by getting on the wall that was once there. Yep, that was our standard Jack-O-Lantern face and spot for the Halloween guest each year! lol. I am lucky to have those pictures to keep my memory fresh...

    Catherine, I too believe the tree will stand up to the spikes after reading what I did about it on the internet. I was afraid for it when I first saw them in the trunk. I wanted to take them out but feared I might get a shotgun pointed in my face if I tried. lol...

    JGH, I do get by the old house occasionally when home on visits. It is depressing to see the house but the tree really does brighten my day...

    Blossom, You should take your Gingko out of the pot and put it into the ground! It will last forever and then some. I do enjoy their fan shaped leaves and always recognize them anywhere...

  23. Nice tribute to your tree Skeeter. My neighbor across the street has a really pretty ginko that's full and well branched but another neighbor down the way has 6 trees and they're very spindley and sparsely branched...I knew one of the sex had the bad odor (why is the female?!) maybe the other has different growth habit...It is funny that you kept the photos this long..waiting for the right blog to come!

  24. They are gorgeous trees, I love the shape of the leaves.

  25. Hi Skeeter,
    I enjoyed your post. You have some great photos of your grandma's house. I asked my parents awhile back to let me know if they came across any photos of his parents' gardens. I know of at least one, where my uncle was in front of it with the fish he had caught. My parents told me they couldn't find any. I am sad about that. They had a garden on a whole lot at one place they lived, and a nice sized one at another.

    It's sad seeing the changes to the property. That ginko tree is awesome!

  26. What a lovely post, Skeeter! It's so hard to look at a home from the past and see how it has been changed. I once drove past the first house I lived in as a child and was surprised to see how small it was. Funny, the yard seemed enormous to me when I was 5.

    We don't have a gingko tree, but there are several on the nearby university campus. I always thought their leaves were so pretty. I appreciated learning all the history of this tree--that's pretty cool that it survived the atom bomb!

  27. I just love the fall color of ginko trees- and as someone who grew up in old pre-tornado east Nashville i sympathize with the loss of your neighborhood- historic beauties chopped into modern condos or bull dozed for cheese restaurants and tacky row houses.

  28. Lynn, Thanks, The gingko which is branched nicely, is it a larger tree? I think they are sparsely branched when young trees. I noticed the small ones in our area are the same way. They take a long time to grow so they will more then likely, stay that way for a while. Yes, Why is the female the stinky one? lol...

    Racquel, the leaf shape is one that you would recognize anywhere for sure. I notice the leaves way before spotting the tree. :-)

    Sue, I know the feeling. I have looked and looked for pictures of my grandmothers Rose Garden to no avail. If I find a picture, the quality is so crummy that not worth sharing. And to think now a huge garage sits on that spot which was once so beautiful. So sad as all I have are the memories. Sigh...

    Rose, I was the same way about the backyard of this house! I remembered it being so large where we kids built cabins and forts out of tree limbs and romp and stomp for hours every day! It was funny to see how small the land is today! Dont you love the golden glow in the fall of the trees?

    J.J. you are so right. This street was once a beauty and now kind of junky if you ask me! This house is located near the college so that is why it became an apartment dwelling. Many of the large old houses were transformed into those ugly rentals. How sad...

  29. Some of my friends have Ginkos... but my is dead!
    In south of Sweden they can grow realy tall...........

  30. What a great post! I love big trees too, they are like old and faithful friends.

  31. WOW! What a great tree! I've planted a Ginko myself a few years ago, but I've never seen any as big as this one - amazing! I do know that they won't grow that big here i n Sweden (thank god) but I do love my tree with its beautiful colour at fall / gittan

  32. So, thi sis whata ginkgo tree looks like. I have been drinking ginkgo tea for years now and I can vouch to its benefits. My energy levels are up and my concentration is better.

    Many thanks for htis fantastic trip down YOUR memory lane.

    Greetings from London.

  33. simply beautifully captured shots of the tress and lovely reading....!

  34. Linda, I am sorry you lost your Gingko tree, Sigh. Will you try to grow another one? The old ones are really tall indeed...

    Matron, Thanks, Yes, trees are like faithful friends. They say goodbye for the winter then return all new in spring! I find them wonderful standing tall with naked branches in the winter as well...

    Gittan, I wonder why they will not grow so large in Sweden? Hum, cooler weather maybe? They do have a wonderful glow in the fall...

    A Cuban, Yes, they claim the Gingko has great benefits for the memory! Now we can say that is so with your vouching for the tea! Glad you now know a bit about the tree that helps you each day....

    Flying stars, Thanks so much. I am lucky to have the old pictures of the tree for comparison. I was snapping pictures at an early age for sure...

  35. I love the shape of ginkos, and the foliage too. The stench from fruiting females is pretty awful though. There are a bunch of them at a nearby park, and when the sun is shining on them in late summer the smell is really disgusting!

    This is such a poignant post Skeeter. I can so relate to how you must feel going back to see such a beautiful home having lost a lot of its charm. Hopefully someday it will be restored to it's former beauty.

  36. Garden Girl, I have heard the females really do stink. I hope to not get a whiff of that scent in my lifetime. :) We were lucky this one was a male or the scent would have been awful as it was so close to the house and with no central air, we had the windows open often in that old house. I do wish it could be restored but dont think that will ever happen. Like I said earlier, if I hit the lottery maybe there is hope for the house to shine once again but those are long shot odds. sigh...

  37. Wow, what a beautiful Ginkgo tree. It must have been growing in this spot for a long time, they grow rather slowly.

  38. There is an old-time remedy for saving a tree that is hammering a nail into the trunk. I can't remember what it is supposed to cure, but I remember an old-timer telling me about it. Maybe someone was over zealous by using spikes instead of nails. In any event, it seems to have worked. :)

  39. Anonymous, Strange as I would think nails/spikes to harm a tree. But then again, trees are tough as nails. Sorry, could not resist the pun here. lol... Hum, maybe the iron/metal helps to heal an ailing tree. Interesting....