The Rewards of Observing Details

“Thinking is more interesting than knowing, but not so interesting as looking.”
--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Last year a number of us, after leaving Kendal Center at the lower exit, turned off the asphalt path to get closer to our largest Yellowwood tree (Cladrastis kentukea, #40 on the new Arboretum map). Why, we wondered, was Dr. Will Luginbuhl performing surgery just above the intersection of that tree’s lowest limbs? Over several days, using chisel and knife, he and our ace horticulturist, Casey Groff, were trimming a stub to improve the tree’s chance for survival.
Now, that old Yellowwood lives on, its vitality to become evident in a spectacular display of fragrant white, pea-like flowers arranged in pendulous, foot long clusters, supported by compound leaves—each composed of seven leaflets—that reach out and down from slightly zigzagging branches, which are best seen in winter, after the yellow leaves drop.

Fortunately, thanks to Casey and the residents who work with him, a younger generation of Yellowwoods, which should begin blooming within the next few years, now stand ready for our inspection and for observation by generations of future KCC residents.

In his presentations at Kendal, native plant expert Doug Tallamy urged us to “admire plants for what they do,” not only “for what they look like.” We can expect that offspring of the countless bees that sip the nectar of our mature Yellowwood will one day hang out along Kendal Drive below parking lot #1, where six young trees, planted in a line, will also provide shade to those who come to be dazzled by May blooms and heartened by the buzz.

Visit KCArboretum.org. Pick up an Arboretum map, tree list, and tree descriptions at the reception desk.


Harry Hammond and Judy Czeiner, Photographer