I have been going further into the bowels of the woods at Redwood Park lately. 80 acres, relative to larger areas of land, can seem like not much, but it is still a lot to get acquainted with over the years, especially when it is all forest in the main.
The land can be generally divided in half: the portion that comprises the hillside; and the portion that takes up the top of the hill. They are roughly equal in space, 40/40. The top of the hill is the more cultured part, though very full and expansive and beautiful and, well, forested. As you go lower down it gets more wild.
Lower in the woods I came to a crossways in the beaten path, and decided to go further down. I came, in the midst of all that deep wood, on an open beech grove. European beeches that are old - and haven't had various names carved into their boles. Imagine that.
When you come on an old beech grove, with their immaculate white, silver grey trunks, ascending without a knob, hunch or crook in all their years, and not a wrinkle in them, and their leaves have carpeted the entire floor that doesn't admit of any other creeping growth (aside from the odd holly seedling), you definitely feel like you've arrived at something serene and sacred, calm and cloistered.
I've been mentally composing a list of my favourite trees over the past couple years. I don't think I'll ever come up with an outstanding favourite over all the others, but beech and holly come close. Especially if the holly has been looked after.
The competition: Cedar of Lebanon (especially the more hardy var. stenocoma), western red cedar, giant sequoia, monkey puzzle, incense cedar, English oak...
and that's not the 'fruit trees' - or trees that are shrubs.
What are your favourites?