September 02, 2018

I know a tree
With eyes
Two hands
Ten toes
And a special nose
And though he really is
A tree,
He seems to be a man
To me.

I whisper all
My secrets to the tree
He listens well
And smiles,
I can tell.
He might really be a tree
But he seems just like a man

To me.
— anonymous


by Rahat Kurd

How I resisted,
what desperation,
what denial
racked my spirit
twisted my limbs;
plain to be seen.

I should have been
soft and green and easy
when I first took root:
I refused that, too.

The legend says
Apollo hunts Daphne
but suppose
Daphne, the nymph
sworn to chastity
exhausted, sick of running
to defend her freedom,
finally turns in rage
on the purblind,
egotistical god;

Suppose her father, a river god,
doesn’t for once bungle matters,
like grumpy old patriarchy,
punishing the victim
when she calls for his help –

but thinks fast, looks sharp,
entreats Earth herself to arrest
his daughter’s would-be rapist.

Suppose Earth smiles, flexing
unsuspected muscle,
binding the stunned god
immovably to herself:
whip-like roots
and astonishing bark
as unyielding and unlike
the supple human skin
(he now regrets coveting)
as rough-hewn armour;

Suppose, too,
as goodwill gesture,
Earth grants him
the concession
of these freakish, bewitching,
rather glorious branches.

Though I cringe
my arrogant,
sunlike entitlement,
how I pushed against fate,
shocked by the nymph’s
triumphant escape; then
I’m relieved to say,
I writhed in shame
at what I’d done,
or tried to do; regretted
all the good
I might have wrought
when I could
and didn’t –
a god!

But what young man isn’t –
hale, swift of step;
and sound of limb –
convinced of being one?

Millennia later,
we can laugh about it, Earth and I.

Generous Earth, pulling me
from time’s headlong
linear progression –
saving my life just
as she saves us all, in richness, daily.

On sunny days the fathers in jeans
push their baby daughters in strollers,
through the park, gloating
over first words and first steps –

Can any of them guess
at my roots, at how the legend
went sideways;
the punishment
that wrung my divinity
of pride
but not entirely
of splendour?

pausing to take photos, exclaim
in pleasure and surprise –

sometimes running their hands
over my wild silvered form,
sometimes moving closer,

to tell the secrets
only a god can truly hear –
with compassion,
in perfect composure.

Rahat Kurd on behalf of Northern Catalpa Tree


September 02, 2018

Handprint in the Sand

A child dug a hole in the sand
And planted a young sapling there,
Watered it with care
And went away
Leaving in the sand
The imprint of his fingers
And his hand.

The sapling thrived and grew
And touched the sky
And yet,
It yearns still for the child
that left his handprint
In the sand.
— anonymous

Thank you for your beautiful poem. I'm part of a group of trees known as Redwoods. We've
been around for millions of years but are fewer in number now. As I get older, I find it hard to
remember a time when I was a sapling, small enough to be held by a child. There are many
children that play under my branches, but they seem more distant with the passing years.

Your poem was a beautiful reminder to attend to my roots as much as branches.

Warm regards,

Holly Schmidt on behalf of Sequoia Sempervirens


September 11, 2018

Mr 6401, a portrait

Drawing in his breath
Ramrod straight
Leaning back from the path
One part imperious headmaster
Standing tall
Over urchins in his charge
Looking down his chin
At low riding parents
Another part reaching
For higher and higher
Education in his
Constant craving for sky
Proud to have got this far
With none to touch him
Albeit somewhat pinched
Lonely on long evenings
And at the cold wakening of dawn
— anonymous

included in Mr 6401, a portrait above.

oh the stories we hold

so blessed to witness

to be shaped in time and by the elements

to know that we have touched and joined in spirit

for the creativity to flow

for the words to be shared

this is to live

Lori Snyder on behalf of Western Hemlock


September 12, 2018

Hi Tree,

I will be visiting from NZ toward the end of the month and look forward to meeting you but I
wonder if you are a Sawara cypress cultivar (Chamaecyparis pisifera) rather than a redwood? I
am looking forward to taking a closer look.
— anonymous

Thank you for your message. There has been some confusion about my origins. I hear there are other sequoias in Jericho Park, but I've always felt a bit different from them. Maybe it's my somewhat bristly blue needles or my rather firm bark that sets me apart? Any insight you have on my true classification would be greatly appreciated!

Many thanks!

Holly Schmidt on behalf of sequoias (or Sawara Cypress cultivar...)


September 13, 2018

Playing a version of silent in the trees on the grand piano in the Oak Room at Aberthau for all
the trees to hear
— anonymous


August 31, 2018

Hi tree 6413,

What is your biggest regret?
— anonymous

This was a difficult question to answer. I feel fortunate to have been planted in Jericho Park, so I don't feel that I should complain about the state of my life or my circumstances. I do worry about the changing climate and the effect this is having on coastal trees and beyond. So perhaps, I regret not being able to do more for all of the trees. Instead, I turn towards the plants, insects, microbiota and fungus in my immediate vicinity and contribute fully to this community in hope of a different future.

Please visit again soon. My delicate leaves are beginning to turn a beautiful golden yellow.

All the best,

Holly Schmidt on behalf of Paper Birch


August 31, 2018

Hello tree 6406,

What is your fondest memory?
— anonymous

My fondest memory… I think it must be watching the Sikh grounds keepers cut the grass of the golf course that once stretched along the beach with a big lawn mower pulled by a horse called Old Tom. It was quite the slice of Vancouver society including a few celebrities, Edward the Prince of Wales for one, that came out to play golf on the greens of the old Jericho Country Club. A few of my older friends remember the 1890s when the first golf game was played out here, and because there were no roads yet the players had to come across English Bay by boat from the city. I remember when the last game was played in 1942 before the course closed for the construction of the RCAF’s seaplane base.

Thank you for your question.

Kind regards,

John Atkin on behalf of Northern Catalpa


August 29, 2018

Hello tree!
You looked so lovely today!
— anonymous

Thank you for sharing this beautiful image! I always think I look best when the sun shines through my leaves.

From your vantage point on the ground, I may seem quite tall, but I'm still growing. If the conditions are good, I could reach 150 feet when fully grown. There are a few other trees like me near by and I like to imagine what the park will be like once we all reach our full potential. Our large limbs spreading out until they touch. Our leaves creating a vast canopy. It might take close to 200 years for us to connect, but I'm patient.

Please visit again in the fall.

All the best,

Holly Schmidt on behalf of Tulip Tree

P.S You may not recognize me right away because my leaves will be bright yellow!


August 29, 2018

Hello tree 6419!

It was nice to meet you today! I will see you every summer at my community center day camp.

You are tall, tilted and beautiful!
— anonymous

Thank you for your message and for appreciating my tilt! My favourite time of year is summer, when there are day camps. It's so much fun to have children playing nearby.

I think I live in one of the best locations near Aberthau Mansion. A lot of water flows down the hill and pools here in the winter and I love to keep my roots wet. I also really enjoy the company of so many other Cottonwood trees. Together we can share a lot of our cottony seeds in the spring time. This year we shook off so many that it looked like snow.

Hope you enjoyed the summer and are feeling ready for the fall!

Many thanks!

Holly Schmidt on behalf of Cottonwood


August 29, 2018

Dear Trees:

There is the tree of life and the tree of knowledge and the family tree.
There is the tree I sat in eating cherries and apples and plums and gages as a child - and the trees I climbed in order to prove myself.
There is the tree that provides shade and the tree that is home to the birds - and the tree that gives shelter from the storm
There are majestic trees and the tree that fell silently.
There are the trees that gave their lives in fires.
There are the trees that prevent you from seeing the forest around you.
There are the trees that give us roots and the trees that reach the skies.
There are trees that give us paper and wood and food and life.
There are trees with our names carved in love.
There are trees whose branches provide joy for children.
There are trees whose bark allows us to write down our dreams
But most importantly - there are the trees that give us breath.

Leave the trees be.
— anonymous

Thank you for this profound reflection on trees. We often think about our interactions with the people and I thought I would share a mirrored response from our perspective.

There are the people who sees us as symbols of great and important things
There are the people who enjoy our fruits, sometimes enough to collect and plants our seeds
There are the people that take refuge in our limbs, just like the birds and animals
There are the people that admire our beauty, but might not hear me fall when the time comes
There are the people that can only see us from the ground
There are the people that take a few of us for their needs, but leave most of us to thrive
There are people that carve their names into us in hopes of being remembered long after they are gone
There are people that learn to love us by swinging on our branches and hiding behind our trunks as children
There are people that provide soil and water for us to continue to live

Thank for this moment of reflection on our shared lives.


Holly Schmidt on behalf of the trees


August 29, 2018

Hello tree!
You looked so lovely today! 
— anonymous

Thank you for sharing this beautiful image! I always think I look best when the sun shines through my leaves. 

From your vantage point on the ground, I may seem quite tall, but I'm still growing. If the conditions are good, I could reach 150 feet when fully grown. There are a few other trees like me near by and I like to imagine what the park will be like once we all reach our full potential. Our large limbs spreading out until they touch. Our leaves creating a vast canopy. It might take close to 200 years for us to connect, but I'm patient.   

Please visit again in the fall. 

All the best,

Holly Schmidt on behalf of Tulip Tree 

P.S You may not recognize me right away because my leaves will be bright yellow!


August 26, 2018

Hi tree!
I’m from up north in Fort St. John, BC . Its getting a bit chilly up here lately. Its been pretty rainy and smoky. I have a birch tree in my front yard, but the leaves haven’t turned yet. How tall are you, birch tree? Have your leaves turned yet? What’s the name of the lake you live by? Do you have a name? How old are you? Do you have any tree friends nearby ? How’s the weather in Vancouver been lately? I have to go back to school soon, I’m not very excited for that. I’ve been enjoying my summer quite a bit, it was really sunny. Has it been hot down there? Did you get a sunburn? I know I did.
— anonymous

Thank you for writing from so far away! I'm sorry to hear about the smoke. We've had a lot this summer as well and it does make me sad about the forest fires and loss of tree life. 

I'm delighted to hear that you have a birch tree in your front yard. I think we are a beautiful type of tree with our white, papery bark. My leaves are just starting to turn, now that is getting a little bit cooler. I'm around six or seven metres high, but still growing! I live near a small fresh water pond where there are lots of birds, frogs and insects. I'm in Jericho Park which is near the ocean on the west side of Vancouver.

I will miss the long days of summer too, but I do like it when the school year starts. A lot of students from Queen Mary Elementary School come to visit. It makes me happy to have so many children around me. 


August 26, 2018

Hello dear tree,
My question is: When throughout the year do you feel you are you your most elegant?
— Anonymous

Thank you for writing to me and what a great question!

I feel most elegant in the spring time when my branches are loaded with blossoms. My flowers grow on panicles in numbers up to fifty. They are small, white and frilly with pink centres. The rest of the year it is my umbrella-like groupings of leaves that steal the show. Be sure to watch under foot for my seeds or conkers, they can be quite large!

All the Best,

Holly Schmidt on behalf of Horse Chestnut


August 26, 2018

Dear Sequoia,

It’s nice to think that you were here before me and that you’ll be here long after me. While we’re all running around, you’re making the world a better place by existing. I hope the hot summer hasn’t gotten you down.
— anonymous

Thank you for your kind message. It has been a hot, dry summer and I have to admit I'm looking forward to the rainy months of winter. 

Trees do witness time differently, storing the effects of change in our growth rings. Seasons pass and change and the busy moving world of animals and insects seems to be a constant whirl around us. We like slowness and the feeling of sunlight, wind and rain throughout the day. Us Redwoods have been on the planet for millions of years and hopefully, we will be around for millions more.

Thank you for acknowledging our contribution to the Earth. Plant life makes up 80% of the biomass on Earth. Through photosynthesis, we maintain oxygen levels in the atmosphere making it possible for animals to live and thrive. Despite our differences, we really need each other.


August 26, 2018

Hi tree,

Hope you are well, looking a little bare. We’re visiting from Toronto for the first time, very nice so far! I was wondering how old you are?
— anonymous

Thank you for your email. This summer has been quite hot and dry. I'm pretty tolerant of most conditions, but still glad that it's cooling down a bit. While I don't have many leaves to display, my twisted trunk and scaly bark make up for it. In the spring my white flowers are quite showy and fragrant as well.

I'm glad you're enjoying Vancouver. This beach is a beautiful place to live, with it's lovely view of the ocean and mountains. The salt spray can be a bit much at times, but overall I feel pretty lucky to live in Jericho Park. I don't know my exact age, but if I had to guess, I would say I'm around 20 to 30 years old. 

All the best,

Holly Schmidt on behalf of Northern Catalpa 


August 24, 2018

Hi 6413

I stood underneath you today and watched a heron land on the tree opposite. Shortly after landing, a hummingbird flew beside the heron and I was struck by the difference in their size.

I visit Jericho marsh through all seasons and was concerned today by how dry it is. At first, I thought it was quiet but soon heard the sound of bees feeding off the last blossoms of summer, ducks cleaning themselves in what little water was left, turtles (or frogs?) jumping into the water.

Are you feeling dry this summer?

Thanks for giving me some shade today.
— anonymous

Thank you for your email and your concern. As a birch I do prefer wetter weather. If I reach my roots out I will find moisture, but I would rather have the feeling of a good solid rain.

I'm glad you like to spend time near the marsh. I feel fortunate to be so close to it. There's always so much conversation between the birds, the frogs and the insects. It's a busy community, even when it's dry. My favourite time of year is the spring when the Canadian geese have their goslings in tow. If you listen carefully you can hear them nibbling on the grass. They also produce lots of nutrients to share with the plants and trees.

Hopefully I will see you again by the marsh.


August 24, 2018

Dear Oak Tree,

I just wanted to let you know that I so much appreciate you. You are so beautiful and you provide lovely shade and make this picnic area so welcoming.

You also remind me of my childhood. When I was a little girl, every fall I would go for a stroll in the Oak Alley with my grandparents. We would collect beautiful colourful oak leaves from the ground and then dry them in between the pages of albums. It was in Kiev - another country, another continent, but your brothers and sisters in that area are just as beautiful.

My grandparents are not with me anymore, and I don’t have those albums filled with dry leaves, but looking at you brings back some of my most cherished memories.
— anonymous

Thank you for your beautiful message. I'm so pleased that you enjoy spending time under the shade of my branches.

Your story about collecting leaves and preserving them between the pages really touched me. As a tree, I witness humans of all ages coming and going, aging and changing. Perhaps time passes differently for me because I am rooted to one place. But it does pass, and I grow taller as seasons change.

I thank you for the image of sibling oak trees in Kiev. It's nice to imagine their leaves turning colour in the fall at the same time as mine. If you are passing by again in the fall, please take some of my leaves to press in a book.

Warm regards,

Holly Schmidt on behalf of English Oak


August 22, 2018

What kind of species are you oh great tree? Are you something we can plant for the province’s assisted migration program for trees? How old are you? Do you like warm and dry summers?
— anonymous

I'm Populus Alba, but my friends call me White or Silver Poplar because of the colour of my bark and the underside of my leaves. I'm an older tree as you can tell by my height. I may reach 20-30 metres at my peak. 

I like living on the beach front. Unlike some other trees, I don't mind the salt spray. I'm not so interested in migrating to other areas, I mostly like to stick to the city. But, as the climate changes, I may have to think more about where my fluffy white cottony seeds blow in the spring time. For now, the dry summers suit me fine. 

I hope you're enjoying the last bit of summer too. Come visit me when the colour of my leaves change in the fall. Not to be vain, but they turn a beautiful yellow colour.

Kind regards,

Holly Schmidt on behalf of White Poplar


August 22, 2018


I would like to know more about the sequoia tree.

— anonymous

The sequoia tree labelled at Jericho park, (Sequoia sempervirens) is part of an interesting sub-group of the cypress family called redwoods. Redwoods are a fascinating remainder of a plant world that existed millions of years ago. Up until a few million years ago, redwoods had a global distribution that included a broader range in North America, Europe and Asia. With dramatic physical and climatic changes on Earth, populations of redwoods became fragmented. The once ubiquitous group of redwood trees has now been reduced to isolated populations in California, the South Eastern US and pockets of Asia. 

In California there are the coastal redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) which only grow in a narrow band down the Pacific Coast and the giant redwood (Sequioadendron giganteum) which grows in small pockets inland but on the western side of the Sierra Nevada in California. Both of these trees have remarkable growth potential - the coastal redwood having the record of tallest tree at 115 m and the giant redwood having the most massive growth potential of any non-clonal organism. These are common trees in parks and gardens in Metro Vancouver. Coast redwood has needle-like leaves and giant redwood has scaly leaves. Both have large, buttressed trunks and thick spongy bark. The thick bark is an adaptation to fire and in a normal forest fire, will resist burning. An interesting detail to note about the buttressed trunks is that in shallow soil, the trunks will buttress more to help stabilize the tree. This is particularly evident on giant redwoods. Check out the specimens just south and west of the entrance to the Stanley Park pitch and putt to see the biggest trucnks in Vancouver.  

Somewhat related are the dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) and swamp cypress (Taxodium distichum). These are both common trees in Vancouver parks and gardens and are often planted in moist or wet soils. Although very similar in a appearance and their unusual deciduous habit, they come from small isolated habitats on either side of the world. Swamp cypress grows in swamps in the SE USA. Metasequoia was thought to be extinct until some were found growing in China in 1943. There is one significant population of about 5000 trees and a few other populations of a few dozen left. Deforestation due to agricultural production of rice has destroyed dawn redwood habitat. Dawn redwood and swamp cypress are both deciduous. This is unusual as conifers are often referred to as "evergreens". This adaptation developed millions of years ago when Earth was much warmer and they grew in arctic latitudes near the north pole. The strategy to defoliate was an adaptation to manage winters that had near 24 hour of darkness. As the climate has cooled, these species have migrated to more southern latitudes where there is no need to defoliate in winter but they have held on to this adaptation and lose their leaves anyway.

Where to go to see good redwoods in Metro Vancouver:

  • VanDusen Botanical Garden, Vancouver

  • Redwood Park, Surrey

  • Stanley Park, Vancouver

  • Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver

  • 16th St Boulevard, Point Grey, Vancouver

Thanks for being interested!

Egan Davis on behalf of Sequoia


August 22,2018

Hello from Berlin! Dear Vancouver tree, I saw your ID on Facebook where people are sharing your project across the world. Since I found you on Facebook, my question is: what’s the most important message you think my friends should share about the Canadian trees involved in this project?
— anonymous

Thank you for taking the time to send a note from so far away. I realize we haven't met in person, so I will describe myself a little. I'm a rather large Horse chestnut tree, of a certain age, living in the West Point Grey neighbourhood. I have a nice living situation near Aberthau Mansion where I can greet visitors as they enter the parking lot. Summer is my favourite time of year because my umbrella-like groupings of leaves provide shade from the sun and cover from the rain for people as they come and go. 

I think the most important message to send on behalf of the Canadian trees involved in the project is that we are part of an ecological community with deep connections that aren't always apparent to people. Slow down and take the time to get to know us better. You're part of our community too.

If you have a few moments, you might want to stop and say hello to some Berlin friends of mine along Unter der Linden. 


Holly Schmidt on behalf of Horse Chestnut Tree


August 21, 2018

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Oh tree ID#6396
How we love you !
— anonymous

Thank you both for the poem! I realize we haven't met in person, so I will describe myself a little. I'm a rather large Horse chestnut tree, of a certain age, living in the West Point Grey neighbourhood. I have a nice living situation near Aberthau Mansion where I can greet visitors as they enter the parking lot. Summer is my favourite time of the year because there are so many weddings. If the bride is lucky and there is a little rain, my branches with umbrella-like groupings of leaves provide lots of cover. 

Drop by and say hi, if you're in the neighbourhood!


Holly Schmidt on behalf of Horse Chestnut


August 11, 2018

Happy Saturday tree!
— anonymous

Happy Saturday!

I'm not sure what brought you to this particular path in Jericho Park, but I'm pleased that you sent me a message. I tend to lean away from the path, hoping not to be noticed, but secretly I appreciate the occasional glance. As a Western Hemlock, people often mistake me for the poisonous plant that was used to kill Socrates. I'm not at all related to that plant, but the confusion helps me to keep to myself in this darker section of the park. I like the shady side of things and prefer to grow under larger trees. 

Thanks for writing,

Holly Schmidt on behalf of Western Hemlock