Before the Warm – the Bones of Trees

20, Feb, 2014 Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy

While we wait for more promises of spring we continue to have blankets of snow coating the gardens, lawns and paths along the Greenway.  Without the distraction of the soft green layers and riots of colorful plants it is the structure and architecture of the trees, and shrubs too, that stand out in the park against the muted background.

Styphnolobium japonicum 'Regent'

Styphnolobium japonicum ‘Regent’ with Itea virginica underneath

Some trick of weather and nature has conspired so only the north side of the trees are still coated with snow. Like applying a shadow effect to your headline typeface, this thin line of white outlines the shape and branching habit of the trees. They pop out against the continuous backdrop of buildings, offices and sky. What a great way to see ‘the bones of the garden”.

Gleditsea in snow

Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis, or Thornless Honeylocust in the Fort Point Channel Parks

The repeating rows of trees are like lines of school children or theater ticket queues, one after the other, but not exactly neat or uniform.  In one location the trees are more grand, and in another, the tapestry of texture more complex. There is always more to see when you take the time to look, to study, to enjoy what is changed by the season, and stop worrying, for a moment at least, about slush in your shoes and wind blowing through your jacket.


Amelanchier with Ilex x meserveae ‘Conapry’  looking south toward Dewey Square

Salix 'Swizzle Stick' in the background, with Styphnolobium japonicum 'Regent'

Salix ‘Swizzle Stick’ in the background, with Styphnolobium japonicum ‘Regent’

Text and Photographs by Darrah Cole, Conservancy Horticulturist