Norway Spruces Behaving Strangely

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dbhguru
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Norway Spruces Behaving Strangely

Post by dbhguru » Mon Aug 30, 2010 10:13 am

ENTS,

Yesterday Monica and I went to Tanglewood in the Berkshires for an end-of-season concert featuring Kurt Masur conducting the Boston Symphony orchestra in a performance of Beethoven's 9th symphony. The performance was spectacular. No surprises there. Masur is a living legend, and rightly so. Our seats were excellent and of course the acoustics of the Shed are unsurpassed. The weather was fine -- a little hot for me, but probably ideal for most attendees.

For those who may not know, Tanglewood is the summer home of the Boston Symphony, and a legendary center of culture. It was conceived by Serge Koussevitsky and began officially in 1940. It is located in Lenox, Massachusetts. Tanglewood is a center for musical study and performance. Musicians from around the world come to Tanglewood every summer and for those who prefer outdoors to indoors, thousands enjoy the concerts from a spacious lawn. For the evening concerts, it is music under the stars.

I can't say enough positive things about Tanglewood. Words simply fail. You have to attend a concert at Tanglewood to fully grasp what it is about and how important Tanglewood is in the expression the best that we humans have to contribute. The experience is multi-dimensional. I'm still trying to assimilate the weekend's experience.

Beyond the unsurpassed cultural experience of Tanglewood, there are the grounds. Ah yes, the grounds; they are not to be taken for granted. Tanglewood's grounds are exquisitely manicured and feature extraordinary gardens, trees, and lovely vistas. In the past, when I visited the Tanglewood grounds for tree measuring purposes, I was fixated on tall white pines and didn't pay much attention to the other species. You know me. Well, shame on me. But, I finally opened my eyes and WOW! The most extraordinary trees on the campus may well be the Norway Spruces. They are not plantation Norways. So, if your image of Norway spruces is shaped by the bland pencil-like trunks of one encounters in plantations -- rather like chickens in a coup, do I have a treat for you. The Tanglewood spruces carry deeper messages. Our fine Maryland friend Dr. Gaines McMartin would go nuts at Tanglewood. Gaines, ya gotta come here. Ya gotta.

I will start the visual tour of Tanglewood with one strangely formed Norway. Get ready fellow and lady Ents. You aren't going to believe this tree.



OctupusNS2Small.jpg
This wonderful Norway measures an impressive 13.3 feet around just below the explosion of limbs. The tree is between 95.0 and 96.0 feet tall, but who cares? For this one-of-a-kind Norway it is all about limbs. A 13-year old boy who has visited and climbed the Norway ever since he was two, posed for me up in the tree. Here is the image.
OctupusNS3small.jpg
One last photo of this remarkable Norway features my beautiful wife Monica as the model. Beauty and the beast.
OctupusNS1Small.jpg
Monica spotted another oddly formed Norway and I attempted to get photographs of it that would do it justice, but that is hard. I could get its striking features into a single frame, and then some children came to play hide and seek, which seemed appropriate. Children love these tree and are drawn to them. That says a lot.
HideAndSeek1Small.jpg
HideAndSeek2Small.jpg
Not all the Norways have strange shapes. Here is "The Beast Spruce". It measures a whopping 14.7 feet in girth and is 107.5 feet in height. Quite a different image from the wispy plantation forms. I have a feeling that the Norway offers endless variations of forms. In an old growth forest, Norways must be off the chart -- aesthetically speaking.
TheBeast1Small.jpg
I tried to capture the elegant forms of the Norways spread across the spacious lawns of Tanglewood. They are not short trees. I got heights to 112 feet, but it isn't there heights that you notice. It is their forms. Here are three images that really don't do justice to what I saw, but hopefully do convey the idea. The first is of The Four Graces. The tree peeping through in the back on the left side of the images is the 112-footer.
Beauties1Small.jpg
NS4Small.jpg
NS1Small.jpg
Then there are trees that are just freakin odd. I mean freakin odd. Don't know how else to describe them, except in the vernacular. It appears that limbs re-sprouted from old trimmings. Take a look. Will and other arborists -- explanation please! do Norways typically re-sprout from trimmings?
NS5Small.jpg
The views across the lawn toward Stockbridge Bowl, a natural lake, are serene. After concerts, people sit in lawn chairs and gaze into a striking color palette that lies before them. They see intense shades of green, blue, and white (if there are clouds in the sky). The Norways punctuate broad swaths of uniform color, often silhouetting themselves against a sunlight background. The resulting artistic forms befit Tanglewood's cultural elegance and variety. Here are two scenes that speak to the silhouette theme.
Tanglewood1Small.jpg
Profiles1Small.jpg
The distance views that draw the most attention are featured in the next two scenes. Can you imagine looking across the lawn and into the Berkshires with the haunting sounds of Bach's Concerto in E Major floating through the air?
Tanglewood1Small.jpg
TheLawn2Small.jpg
But not to forget those extraordinary Tanglewood Norways. Here's one for the road.
NS3Small.jpg

And that was the way it was on the 29th day of September in the 2010th year of our Lord.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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James Parton
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Re: Norway Spruces Behaving Strangely

Post by James Parton » Mon Aug 30, 2010 10:54 am

Bob,

It looks like a wonderful day in a wonderful place, accented by your pretty wife and those wonderful children.

That huge sprawling Norway Spruce in your first three pictures reminds me a bit of the big " Octopus Pine " at the Kellogg Center outside of Hendersonville NC. It is a White Pine that has many multiple limbs ( reiterations ) branching out really low on a huge main trunk before turning upward. Your spruce pictured here shows the limbs spreading out a bit wider before turning up than the big Kellogg pine but the similarities are certainly there!

http://www.nativetreesociety.org/fieldt ... center.htm

Larry might think it speads like a Live Oak!

I can only imagine hearing great classical music in a place like this. I am sure it is a very moving experience!

James
James E Parton
Ovate Course Graduate - Druid Student
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New Order of Druids

http://www.druidcircle.org/nod/index.ph ... Itemid=145

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dbhguru
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Re: Norway Spruces Behaving Strangely

Post by dbhguru » Mon Aug 30, 2010 12:43 pm

James,

The experience was off the charts. Tanglewood is one of my favorite places on the planet. Here's another lawn shot.
TheLawn1Small.jpg
One last shot of The Beast Spruce from a slightly greater distance.
TheBeast2Small.jpg
Oh yes, and here is a change of species. How about this white birch.
WhiteBirch1Small.jpg
When the music season is officially over, I'll return to Tanglewood and do justice to all species there.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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gnmcmartin
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Re: Norway Spruces Behaving Strangely

Post by gnmcmartin » Mon Aug 30, 2010 1:43 pm

Bob:

Wonderful pictures--thanks. I especially like "The Beauty and the Beast." Yes, quite a beauty, but the beast is astounding. We have a Norway spruce here in Winchester that must have its top stolen for a Christmas tree when it was about 12 feet tall. The tree responded by having four limbs near the bottom turn upward, bowl-like, to form a quadruple crown. But "The Beast" tops anything I have seen!

Love to visit MA--uinfortunately, our responsibilities here are intensifying. Little chance of our getting away any time soon.

--Gaines

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dbhguru
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Re: Norway Spruces Behaving Strangely

Post by dbhguru » Mon Aug 30, 2010 2:09 pm

Gaines,

Sure wish you could make it up, but understand. I'll keep you supplied with images of beautiful Norways. They are all over the place. Lenox and Stockbridge are loaded with them. I haven't scratched the surface. They seem to be ideally suited to the climate of western Massachusetts and eastern New York at the latitude of the Berkshires. here is an image looking at the Beast's behind.
TheBeastsBehindSmall.jpg
Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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jamesrobertsmith
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Re: Norway Spruces Behaving Strangely

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Mon Aug 30, 2010 7:35 pm

Wow. Really weird! Those are some big Norway spruce, too!

Jeroen Philippona
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Re: Norway Spruces Behaving Strangely

Post by Jeroen Philippona » Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:07 am

Bob,

Your Norways spruces indeed are fantastic! Even in their native Europe there are probably few places with so many strange monsters among them. I've seen some in Switzerland. It must be something with the climate and soil but also with the type of planting as ornamentals, what is not done very often in Europe. Here it is just the most common wood-plantation tree in the higher hills and mountainous areas.
Could you say something about the climate and soil in Tanglewood and about the age of these Norway's?
In the Netherlands Norway spruce is not native and does not grow very well (our tallest is 42,1 m / 138 ft , the largest I know only 314 cm / 10,3 ft CBH, but in Belgium, wich has low mountains up to 2000 ft, some are told to be 50 m / 164 ft and CBH up to 570 cm / 18,7 ft ). It grows excellent in the mountains of Germany, Switzerland, the Chech Republic, etcetera.
As you know Kouta and I are busy with a list of tallest trees of Europe measured by laser or tape drop.
Of all native species on it Norway spruce is the tallest, as we did not have lasermeasured silver firs or Caucasian firs, wich probably can get even taller.

Tanglewood surely must be great to visit some concerts. Perhaps I should visit it next year in combination with my uncle and aunt, who live in Main (my uncle is originally from Boston).

Jeroen

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dbhguru
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Re: Norway Spruces Behaving Strangely

Post by dbhguru » Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:38 am

Jeron,

Lenox, MA where Tanglewood is has an average July temperature of 69 degrees Fahrenheit and 22.5 degrees in January. Precipitation averages 43.5 inches annually. Snowfall averages 68.5 inches per year. The altitude of the valley is 700 to 1,000 feet. The mountains around rise to over 2,000 feet, with Mount Greylock to the north being the highest point at 3,487 feet. I'll try to get good information for you on soils, bedrock, etc.

The Housatonic River Valley appears to be a very good growing environment for Norway Spruces relative to other Massachusetts locations. I have just begun documenting what Norways do here. For the first years of ENTS, I ignored all non-native species, but the Norways kept calling out. What a great species. Ages of most of the bigger spruces in the Lenox area are between 90 and a 150 years at most. I'm unsure of when the species was first introduced here in the U.S. I think our good friend Gaines has that information. He may have posted it in the past. Regardless, I'm at the start of a more intensive search and documentation of the Norway Spruce in the Northeast. The mismanaged 1930s plantations have given the species a bum rap. The species deserves the attention.

Tanglewood is a world class cultural facility. I get to see the great conductors of Europe conduct concerts throughout the concert season. When Monica and I aren't in Colorado, Tanglewood is on our schedule. We are friends with the Assistant Artistic Director of the BSO, so I get a lot of the inside scoop. It's great.

If you make it over here, maybe we can plan some events, tree-based and cultural.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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Larry Tucei
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Re: Norway Spruces Behaving Strangely

Post by Larry Tucei » Tue Aug 31, 2010 2:27 pm

Bob, Those Norways are fantastic! They look like giant octopus. Great photos! Larry

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dbhguru
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Re: Norway Spruces Behaving Strangely

Post by dbhguru » Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:03 pm

Larry,

The possibilities for Norway Spruce in New England and nearby New York are endless. I don't know why I waited so long to really dive into the species. But I'm there now. Norways are attractive, and they grow both large and tall up here.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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