The old veteran trees of Cypress Lawn Arboretum are a special part of our living collection, some of them 131 years in age and still branching out today. I know a profound sense of gratitude for this heritage, to Hamden Holmes Noble and the founding stewards of Cypress Lawn.
In my role as one of the modern-day caregivers of the garden, the noble intention of planting and establishing a global diversity of trees over a century ago is a spirited tradition that I am honored to carry forward.
The proactive notion of stewardship of this urban forest landscape is leveraged by the growing idea of the Arboretum Heritage Project.
With this fledgling program, each autumn we will be planting young companion trees for many of our veterans, to welcome and celebrate the next generation of life throughout Cypress.
And this season, we are beginning to embrace an even deeper level of commitment to the living legacy of the Arboretum, by collaborating with some fellow tree stewards to grow the true children – the seeds of life! – from centurial specimens like my good friend Max the Cypress, in Section C on our foundational East Campus.
Max and many of the other veteran trees of the Arboretum hold many seeds, in cones or fruits, aloft in their canopy each spring and summer season. In the case of our namesake cypress, every one of the Hesperocyparis macrocarpa cones may hold dozens of viable seeds inside. In fact, the Latin name “macrocarpa” translates to “large cone”, as the seed-bearing vessels of this kind of tree are larger than the cones of any other cypress species.
With the proper care, this gift of new life – these many seeds! – may be nurtured on into healthy mature trees that will grace the landscape of Cypress Lawn, far beyond even my own lifetime.
When we establish trees for the next generation, as Mr. Noble and his fellows did for us, we really are setting the stage for a life of joy, gratitude, and hope for those to come.
I feel charged by a sense of purpose for this kind of proactive stewardship, for nurturing the forest of the future. This is a journey of collaboration, where we will go farther together, a story you are welcome to share in bringing to life.
Remember that you too can care for the trees around you, perhaps at Cypress Lawn Arboretum, or wherever you call home. If you choose to, it may just be that their growth will nurture your own spirit in the seasons to come. Happy planting!