Beijing’s Magnificent Trees

One of the greatest rewards from the search for old sites in the Beijing area was the acquaintance with so many imposing ancient trees. During my ramblings there I found that large trees were sometimes the only vestige of history left at an abandoned temple, former imperial villa or gravesite. Many times they helped me to identify former historical places when everything else had disappeared with the winds of time, if they had been lucky enough to be able to stand their ground. A particularly large gnarled cypress, a venerable bending pine or a pair of giant ginkgo trees are clues that this location was a special spot. Often trees have stories connected with them that relate to their surroundings and are passed down through the generations. These ancient sentinels are thus a kind of living history and I used them as a way to present the many rings of Beijing’s past. Sharing the encounters I have had with some of these outstanding trees has been a way of giving them voice and recognition. I hope that through awareness of the importance of these trees it will encourage us all to respect the environment of these “statesmen” of long ago, so that they can continue their life spans to meet the generations to come.

Collage of Beijing Trees (click on each to expand):

(Photography by Ginny Anami)

For more, see Tree Activities and Trees Latest section.

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