The Ginkgo seeds from Hiroshima, Japan have emerged. You can already identify them as ginkgos with their baby fan-shaped leaves.
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is probably our most ancient of trees with fossils dating to well over 200 million years old. It is popular in temple gardens in the Orient from which it was “discovered” by Western horticulture. Wild trees are unknown or of questionable origin in China where garden trees are estimated between 1,000 to perhaps 2,500 years old. Trees are either male or female and females produce fruit with a coating that has a rather unpleasant smell. The fruit’s internal nut is a delicacy when properly prepared as edible and we have purposefully planted female selections in the Heartland Harvest Garden just for that purpose. Most gardeners and landscapers choose male clones so that there will be no “mess” of fruit. Also take a look at our many dwarf selections in the Conifer Garden north of the Visitor Center.
I thought I’d share this poem, from a recent article in the American Conifer Society’s Conifer Quarterly and shared by local gardener Dave Stegmaier of Shawnee when “searching for words to describe why he loves and enjoys Ginkgo.”
The Consent (by poet Howard Nemerov)
Late in November, on a single night
Not even near to freezing, the ginkgo trees
That stand along the walk drop all their leaves
In one consent, and neither to rain nor to wind
But as though to time alone: the golden and green
Leaves litter the lawn today, that yesterday
Had spread aloft their fluttering fans of light.
What signal from the stars?
What senses took it in?
What in those wooden motives so decided
To strike their leaves, to down their leaves,
Rebellion or surrender? and if this
Can happen thus, what race shall be exempt?
What use to learn the lessons taught by time.
If a star at any time may tell us: Now.