"O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!"
We all know these words to "America the Beautiful."
It was after leaving her home in Boston to teach a summer course that English professor Katharine Lee Bates dreamed up the lyrics to this patriotic song. Her trip took her from Niagara Falls to a fair in Chicago and ended at the top of Pike's Peak in Colorado Springs, Colo. This is where the phrases came to her, and she quickly jotted them down. And Colorado certainly embodies all of her vivid descriptors - from the flattest of plains to some of the tallest of purple mountain peaks.
In addition to these visual representations of America itself, Colorado is home to another majesty. Like an oasis in the middle of a desert, a dense 150-acre mini-forest known as Arborland rises among the flat, grassy plains near the South Platte River. Deer, wild turkeys and a diverse variety of birds live within its protecting shade, giving it the feel of a nature preserve or museum without fences.
Starting as a nursery in 1971, Arborland grew from a small garden center and greenhouse to a hardwood tree farm. By the 1990s, Arborland boasted as many as 12,600 large trees on 90 acres. That's about 68 football fields of trees in an otherwise flat terrain. The tree farm consists of a mixture of conifers and shade and ornamental trees, such as honey locust, ash, white oaks, silver maples, crabapples, hawthorns, Austrian pines, scotch pines, Colorado blue spruces and Black Hills spruces.
A section of Arborland is captured in a photo by Jay Dickman as February's tree of the month in the Every Tree Tells a Story 2011 calendar, produced by The Cultural Landscape Foundation in partnership with The Davey Tree Expert Company and American Photo magazine and in conjunction with the annual Landslide project of the same title.
In addition to Arborland, the calendar features tree pictures by award-winning photographers. The images were selected as part of The Cultural Landscape Foundation's annual list of significant at-risk parks and gardens. Each month unveils a new photo and story about an irreplaceable tree, highlighting the threats it's experiencing with the hopes to preserve it for years to come. The calendar evokes the same emotions you might feel about trees you find irreplaceable in your own landscape. Today, Arborland is on the verge of being boxed in by a growing population, nearby construction, an expanding highway and pipeline, and other natural resource exploration. But the tree farm is still there, and the nursery at the heart of it still serves residential and commercial customers - a true testament to the mission its founders started more than 40 years ago.
Do you have a story or special green space you'd like to share? Visit Davey's tree community site, where you'll be able to do just that and read other great accounts of special trees.