The habit of a beech grown in the open is like a globe half buried in the earth. To me, it’s one of the most beautiful sights of nature.
We are fortunate to have a property large enough for two specimen beeches. The one to the west, outside the kitchen garden fence, is around thirty years old, planted when our daughter was ten; in the east meadow, my birthday beech was 19 in March and is just starting to grow out of her gangly stage. Fagus grandifolia can live over a hundred years if it is lucky enough to be undisturbed.
John planted both as seedlings from our woods and was careful to incorporate the leaf duff they were growing in into their new soil, as it carries specialized microrhizae that help the roots absorb nutrients. He has a way with trees and has planted many now mature specimens at the University.
The older beech began to bear fruit several years ago. When its monoecious flowers (bearing male and female parts on the same plant) begin to unfold in the hollow, it’s our version of Japanese cherry time. We contemplate individual blossoms as well as the cloudy glory of the whole tree.
Although the western one has grown a nearly impenetrable skirt of dense twigs, the one in the east meadow opens her arms so you can walk up and give the trunk a hug and a kiss. Which I do each time I pass her.