Working on my most recent series of paintings, I am finding that the research is as much fun as the painting process. Traveling to find historic and amazing trees has yielded some surprises. Last Tuesday was a perfect example.
Getting out the door in the morning to drive south to Fredericksburg, Virginia would not normally be on my list of things to do,. That said, I wanted to see the Virginia Champion Yellowwood tree at Kenmore Plantation, and the weather was just about perfect for a visit. Traffic was heavy, but moving on Interstate 95, and I made it to Fredericksburg just in time for the site to open for visitors.
A well-dressed woman greeted me upon my arrival. I am sure that she thought that I was there to visit the home, but the grounds were of more interest to me during this trip. I asked her if she could direct me to the Yellowwood tree. She looked puzzled, but pointed out some men not too far away, indicating that they could help me. These men seemed to know exactly what I was looking for and directed me to... wait for it... a SAPLING! My disappointment was palpable. I had driven over an hour and the tree was gone. Turns out that the Champ had died a few years ago, and the sapling was a replacement. This is where the story takes a positive turn.
As a result of the death of the Champion tree, I asked if there were other historic trees on the property. That was when I was introduced to the Director of Gardens and Historic Landscapes there. She spent over an hour with me showing me some outstanding specimens. Here's the kicker. If the Yellowwood had been alive, I would have taken pictures and hi-tailed it out of there. Sometimes things that appear to be negative can yield great rewards.
Here is a picture of the Southern Red Oak at Kenmore Plantation. This beauty will figure into my upcoming work to be sure.
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