Blue Against Grey Skies

Unlike the Cedrus atlantica (Glauca Group) on the South Lawn of the White House, Kendal’s spacious cedars have not had to accommodate Amy Carter’s tree house.

But the largest of ours does have a role. Gabrielle Kimmel spoke of the Blue Atlas Cedar at the front of the Center, as our “greeter tree.” Have you too stopped, in awe, at the sight of that many-armed giant? If not, pause and enjoy. And look again next spring, when sap suckers may be drilling new rows of neatly aligned holes in the cedar’s trunk. Their brush-tipped tongues lap up the oozing sap and the insects attracted to it.

Examine the tree from higher ground to see tightly constructed, barrel-like cones, each upright on its branch. Our cedar’s sharply upward-striving branches, we think, are the result of its tight quarters. Like us, tall and thin in adolescence, these cedars spread out in middle age. Henry Francis du Pont, with Winterthur’s future in mind, placed his Cedrus atlantica at the center of a wide circle of walled lawn. Not until thirty years after du Pont’s death, some say, did that tree seem right-sized for the setting.

Two others of this species stand—much too close H.F. might say—to the covered walk on the high side of our Ulverston Square, looking down on the Franklinia Garden. Despite wounds of age and the loss of lower limbs to heavy snow and lawn mowing, they impress. Decked out in bundled, curving glauca-color needles (bluish grey), they convey Maggie Smith-like dignity and endurance.

Walk around to the far side of the courtyard to enjoy the long reach and restful horizontality of their branches. From that distance, notice how the flat tops of these mature trees contrast strongly with the deciduous trees beyond the cottage rooftops. Would these cedars rather be basking in the longer January sunlight of Morocco, next to their cousins high in the Atlas Mountains, three thousand feet above the Atlantic Ocean?

By Harry Hammond & Judy Czeiner, Photographer