Lexington’s amazing trees

I have lived in and near Lexington for about 35 years. As a careful observer of trees, I have always been amazed at the number of very large trees. This became the subject of my first book, Venerable Trees – History, Biology and Conservation in the Bluegrass.  Since 2005, we have been working with landowners […]

Bur oak

Flying Over the Bur Oak

Today, the Venerable Trees staff worked with Beard House Media to get our first drone inspection of a huge bur oak.  It is very difficult to estimate the volume of a big tree, or to inspect it for potential problems.  Aerial or satellite photos often lack detail.  Today, our friend Jeremiah Oschwald from Beard House […]

Bur oak, 72" diameter, with Jim Pikull

Young Woodland Pastures

Those who have read my book or heard my presentations know that one of our major concerns about the future of our rare and ancient woodland pastures is the failure of trees to reproduce. With trees succumbing to age, lightning and poor management, the population of ancient trees is declining. While we are constantly on […]

Bur oak leaves

A Deep Green Autumn

A deep green autumn is rare in Kentucky. By this time of year, our trees usually look forlorn and bedraggled. Dry summers, high temperatures, insects and diseases all take their toll.  Not in 2015, though. Our frequent rainfall and cool temperatures have allowed many trees to maintain lush green leaves and to continue growing. Some […]

Great Trees of the Bluegrass

Today, we are launching a new project “Great Trees of the Bluegrass” to locate and identify important trees in our region. We have a new Facebook Group: Great Trees of the Bluegrass for you to contribute your own observations, and we are also creating a new web-based identification and mapping tool for your use. The purpose of […]

New leaves on a defoliated bur oak

A couple of weeks ago, we told you about a magnificent, ancient bur oak that was suddenly defoliated overnight.  We said that it would recover quickly and that we would update you. With 10 days of mild weather, the tree has leafed out very quickly.  Most trees maintain large reserves of starch and protein in […]

New leaves on an old bur oak

Defoliation of a bur oak – Overnight!

You may recognize the bur oak in this page from previous photos. It is a magnificent, ancient bur oak in Kirklevington Park.  I visit it often.  Last week I was looking at the tree in the late afternoon and noticed a few leaf fragments on the ground. The next morning, I came back and saw that […]

Bees on male bur oak flowers

Bees on Bur Oak

For the last 10 days, I have watched an amazing phenomenon that I have never seen before. Oaks are wind pollinated. Occasionally we see insects visiting, but only casually. However, one bur oak that I keep an eye on has been abuzz with activity. Every day while the male flowers were open, there was a […]

Death of a Venerable Tree

The Venerable Trees of the Kentucky Bluegrass are extraordinarily long-lived.  This past weekend, we lost one of the largest and oldest bur oaks in the region.  The tree, at the corner of Versailles Road and Man O’War Boulevard on a farm, fell to the south.  The death of this tree was most unusual. It was […]

The Ingleside Oak

Finding Left-Behind Trees

Finding left-behind trees can be the start of an urban adventure.  As our woodland pastures were developed into urban areas, most of the trees of woodland pastures were cut down. A few remained, usually as single trees in a parking lot or front yard.  Here’s where the adventure comes in: when we find a single […]

Veteran Oak – A Left Behind Tree

The Veteran Oak in Lexington is one of the most iconic trees in the city.  A magnificent bur oak, it lies along a popular walking path on the south side of town.  The Veteran Oak is a left-behind, the only ancient tree in a young riparian (stream-side) forest.  Most of the ancient left-behind trees are on […]

The Old Schoolhouse Oak

The Old Schoolhouse Oak in the news again

Tom Eblen has a fine article in today’s Lexington Herald-Leader about the Old Schoolhouse Oak  and the commitment of Ball Homes to preserve the tree in a new housing development.  By my count, this is the 14th Herald Leader article about this splendid tree You can read the article at the Herald Leader or on […]

The Old Schoolhouse Oak Has Babies

Bur oak in the Bluegrass reproduces only rarely. Although it is a prolific seed producer, there is very little suitable habitat for young bur oak trees. While inspecting our preservation work on the Old Schoolhouse Oak with Tom Eblen of the Herald-Leader, we noticed several vigorous young bur oak seedlings. These trees are just outside […]

Blue ash at Runnymede Farm

A Visit to Runnymede Farm

Runnymede Farm in Bourbon County is the oldest continuously-operated thoroughbred farm in Kentucky. Founded in 1867 by Colonel Ezekiel Clay, it is today operated by his grandson, Catesby W. Clay, and great-grandson  Brutus J. Clay III.  As you might expect for such a long-running family farm, the Clay family has taken great care of their […]

An old bur oak in a woodland pasture

A magnificent bur oak

A magnificent bur oak growing in a pasture in Woodford County, KY has lessons for us about managing old trees. Our Chief Scout, Jason DeBold, found this tree. The tree is a huge old bur oak that lost its top a long time ago, probably to lightning. Like many old trees, this tree has completely […]

Why are young bur oak leaves hairy?

  Young bur oak leaves are densely hairy.  Why?  Scroll down past picture to read more… Why are the young leaves of so many trees hairy? Here are some possible benefits to hairiness in leaves.  There is no reason to think that only one of these explanations is correct. Many organs, tissues and processes in […]