let me orient you to part of our new garden to be. while there’s not much there now, other than the expanse of st. augustine, there’s one element i’ve already grown accustomed to looking at every day. the oak tree.
now, this isn’t your ordinary oak tree. it’s a live oak, Quercus virginiana. only thing is, it’s not so live anymore. i can’t tell if it’s suffered from oak wilt disease or if it had one too many bull dozers rest on its root system while building the lovely neighborhood i’m so proud to be a part of. at first, all i could think of was what a hazard tree it was. technically, it’s in our neighbors back yard, so there’s not much we can do about it. they don’t seem to be the green thumb or arborist-calling type and we have bets as to when and why they’d ever do anything about it. i thought for sure the whole thing would come down during huricane ike, but we’re far enough inland that we didn’t experience any major damage. two months after the hurricane a big branch came down, clipping off a mere corner of stockade fence panel before landing in our back yard. that’s when we realized how fascinating the tree really was. covered in a mini forest of green lichens, gray mosses and orange spore throwing-organisms, the structure of the tree was still supporting life. lots of it.
the crawling and flickering insects have even attracted downy and red-headed woodpeckers who often serenade us during the day. but my favorite part has been watching the bloom cycles of the lichens and mosses change as the moisture content in the air fluctuates. a bit of rain, and the tree comes to life as its mossy costume unfurls; an amazing transformation to watch unfold, literally, before your eyes. and because of all this, the oak tree has become the visual datum of the garden for me. the element to gauge all other change against. and fitting, because she’s been keeping watch over this area for who knows how many years. now i will watch with her. i hope she likes the view.