"Give me a land of boughs in leaf,
A land of trees that stand;
Where trees are fallen there is grief;
I love no leafless land."
- A.E. Housman
"The day I see a leaf is a marvel of a day."
- Kenneth Patton
"Canst thou prophesy, thou little
What the glory of thy boughs shall be?"
- Lucy Larcom, 1826-1893
"No white nor red was ever seen
So am'rous as this lovely green.
Fond lovers, cruel as their flame,
Cut in these trees their mistress' name.
Little, alas, they know or heed
How far these beauties hers exceed!
Fair trees! where s'e'er your barks I wound,
No name shall but your own be found."
- Andrew Marvell, 1621-1678, The Garden
"... every tree near our house had a name of its own and a
This was the beginning of my love for natural things, for earth and sky,
for roads and fields and woods, for trees and grass and flowers; a love
which has been second only to my sense of enduring kinship with birds
and animals, and all inarticulate creatures."
- Ellen Glasgow (1874-1945)
"In Paul Friedrich's book Proto-Indo-European
Trees he identifies the "semantic primitives" of the Indo-European tribe of languages
through a group of words that have not changed much through
twelve thousand years - and those are tree names: especially birch, willow, adler, elm, ash, apple and beech (bher, wyt, alysos, ulmo, os, abul, bhago). Seed syllables, bija, of the life of the west."
- Gary Snyder, Tawny Grammer
"Trees have from time immemorial been
closely associated with magic.
These stout members of the vegetable kingdom may stand for as long
as a thousand years, and tower far above our mortal heads. As such
they are symbols and keepers of unlimited power, longevity, and
timelessness. An untouched forest, studded with trees of all ages,
sizes and types, is more than a mysterious, magical place - it is one
of the energy reservoirs of nature. Within its boundaries stand
ancient and new sentinels, guardians of the universal force
which has manifested on the the Earth ..."
- Scott Cunningham, Earth Power: Techniques of Natural Magick, 1996, p. 77
"The best friend of earth
of man is the tree. When we use the tree respectfully
and economically, we have one of the greatest resources on the earth."
- Frank Lloyd Wright
"... make us sing and dance,
make faces and give flower bouquets, trying to be loved. You ever notice that trees do everything to git attention we do, except walk?"
- Alice Walker
"Spirituality automatically leads to
humility. When a flower develops into a fruit, the petals drop off on its own. When one becomes spiritual, the ego vanishes gradually on its own. A tree laden with fruits always bends low. Humility is a sign of greatness."
- Sri Ramakrishna
"In earth and water will you grow.
In the air will your leaves speak as you reach towards the fire of the sun. We respect and honour and admire you, O tree, and all trees, for you represent both
Peace and Power - though you are mighty you hurt no creature. Though you sustain us with your breath, you will give up your life to house and warm and teach us. We give thanks for your blessing upon our lives and upon our lands. May you fare well in this chosen place. Awen."
- Druid Ceremony for Planting a Tree
"A tree is a tree - how many more do you
need to look at."
- Ronald Reagan, California Governor
"It's one thing not to see the forest
for the trees, but then to go on
to deny the reality of the forest is a more serious matter."
- Paul Weiss
"A fool does not see the same trees a
wise man sees."
- Rick Hilles
"In towering splendor once I stood
A regal monarch of the wood,
My branches once reached to the sky
See me now but do not cry.
The Creator's work has yet to cease
I've become a shelter for bird and beast,
And when at last I fall to the Earth
The life I leave will inspire new birth;
A seedling springs forth from the ground
Nature's cycle goes round and round."
- S. Edward Palmer, Spirit Tree
"He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
that brings forth its fruit in its season,
whose leaf also shall not wither;
and whatever he does shall prosper."
- Psalms, 1.3
"From the earliest times, trees have been the focus of religious
life of many peoples around the world. As the largest plant on earth, the tree has been a major source of
stimulation to the mythic imagination. Trees have been invested in all cultures with a dignity
unique to their own nature, and tree cults, in which a single tree or a grove of trees is
worshipped, have flourished at different times almost everywhere. Even today there are sacred
woods in India and Japan, just as there were in pre-Christian Europe. An elaborate
mythology of trees exists across a broad range of ancient cultures."
- Sacred Places: Trees and the Sacred
"There was a handsome male mockingbird
that sang his heart out every morning during the nesting season from the top of a tall
Norfolk Pine tree. Last week the tree was cut down. The mockingbird and his song are gone. I can't put a dollar value on the tree nor on the mockingbird nor on his song. But I know that I - and our whole neighborhood - have suffered a loss. I wouldn't know how to count it in dollars."
- Jacquelyn Hiller
"Trees are the earths endless
effort to speak to the listening heaven."
- Rabindranath Tagor
"Stand Tall and Proud
Sink your roots deeply into the Earth
Reflect the light of a greater source
Think long term
Go out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings
Embrace with joy the changing seasons
For each yields its own abundance
The Energy and Birth of Spring
The Growth and Contentment of Summer
The Wisdom to let go of leaves in the Fall
The Rest and Quiet Renewal of Winter."
- LLan Shamir, Advice from a Tree
"Of all man's works of art, a
cathedral is greatest. A vast and majestic tree is greater than that."
- Henry Ward Beecher, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit, 1870
"The grove is the centre of their
It is regarded as the cradle of the race and the dwelling-place
of the supreme god to whom all things are subject and obedient."
- Tacitus, Germania
One Old Druid's Journey: Notebooks of the Librarian of Gushen Grove
Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices
Trees: Lore, Myths, Magick, Legends, Esoterica
"The best friend on earth of man is
the tree: when we use the tree respectfully and economically we have one of the greatest resources of the earth."
- Frank Lloyd Wright
"Other holidays repose
on the past.
Arbor Day proposes the future."
- J. Sterling Morton
"A man has made at least a start on
discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit."
- Elton Trueblood (1900-1994)
"I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast"
- Joyce Kilmer, Trees
"We must protect the forests for our
children, grandchildren and
children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who
can't speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees."
- Chief Edward Moody, Qwatsinas, Nuxalk Nation
"Someone's sitting in the shade today
because someone planted a tree a long time ago."
- Warren Buffett
Whispers from the Woods: The Lore & Magic of Trees by Sandra Kynes, 2006.
"Approaching a tree we approach a
sacred being who can
teach us about love and about endless giving.
She is one of millions of beings who provide our air,
our homes, our fuel, our books. Working with
the spirit of the tree can bring us renewed energy,
powerful inspiration, deep communion."
- Druid Tree Lore, Ovate Grade lecture
" 'Ever seen a leaf - a leaf from a
I saw one recently - a yellow one, a little green, wilted at the edges. Blown by the wind. When I was a little boy, I used to shut my eyes in winter and imagine a green leaf, with veins on it, and the sun shining ...'
'What's this - an allegory?'
"No; why? Not an allegory - a leaf, just a leaf. A leaf is good. Everything's good.' "
- Dialogue between Kirolov and Stavrogin
Dostoevsky, The Possessed
gather up my thoughts
like the clouds in your branches.
Draw up my soul
like the waters in your root.
the arteries of your trunk
bring me together.
Through your leaves
breathe out the sky."
- J. Daniel Beaudry, Breath
tree near our house had a name of its own and a special identity. This was the beginning of my love for natural things, for earth and sky, for roads and fields and woods, for trees and grass and flowers; a love which has been second only to my sense of enduring kinship with birds and animals, and all inarticulate creatures."
- Ellen Glasgow (1874-1945)
"Today I have grown
taller from walking with the trees."
- Karle Wilson Baker
"Civilizations as early as the
Chaldean in southwestern Asia were among the first to have a belief in plants that never existed, and the practice continued well beyond the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Originally, this was done to disperse the mystery surrounding certain seemingly miraculous events and to symbolically embody in a physical form various aspects - wealth, happiness, fertility, illness, etc. Later, people began to invent "nonsense plants" to enliven the tale of an otherwise boring voyage, and with the invention of the printed book, to entertain readers who loved to believe in such fables.
- James L. Matterer, Mythical Plants of the Middle Ages
The Sunset Western Garden Book, Eight Edition, 2007. Over 8,000 plants described. Essential reference resource for all gardeners in the United States.
"Let the trees be consulted before you take any action
every time you breathe in thank a tree
let tree roots crack parking lots at the world bank headquarters
let loggers be druids specially trained and rewarded
to sacrifice trees at auspicious times
let carpenters be master artisans
let lumber be treasured like gold
let chainsaws be played like saxophones
let soldiers on maneuvers plant trees give police and criminals a shovel
and a thousand seedlings
let businessmen carry pocketfuls of acorns
let newlyweds honeymoon in the woods
walk don't drive
stop reading newspapers
stop writing poetry
squat under a tree and tell stories."
- John Wright
"I remember once visiting an outdoor
exhibition of sculpture in Arnhem,
the Netherlands. One of the artists had placed this notice at the base of a majestic beech: "Statues are hewn by fools like me: only God could make this tree." The Taoists looked at the inside of the tree. They saw God present, not as the super-sculptor, but as the primal force from which the tree drew its being and its specific form. Becoming aware of this divine origin was for them "great knowledge," to be distinguished from the "small knowledge" of our petty, every-day existence.
- John Wijngaards, God Within Us, 1988.
up the sun
Affirm life's magic
Be graceful in the wind
Stand tall after a storm
Feel refreshed after it rains
Grow strong without notice
Be prepared for each season
Provide shelter to strangers
Hang tough through a cold spell
Emerge renewed at the first signs of spring
Stay deeply rooted while reaching for the sky
Be still long enough to
hear your own leaves rustling."
- Karen Shragg, Think Like a Tree
"Much can they praise the trees so
straight and high,
The sailing pine,the cedar proud and tall,
The vine-prop elm, the poplar never dry,
The builder oak, sole king of forests all,
The aspin good for staves, the cypress funeral,
The laurel, meed of mighty conquerors
And poets sage, the fir that weepest still,
The yew obedient to the bender's will,
The birch for shafts, the sallow for the mill,
The myrrh sweet-bleeding in the bitter wound,
The warlike beech, the ash for nothing ill,
The fruitful olive, and the platane round,
The carver holm, the maple seldom inward sound."
- Edmund Spenser, Faerie Queene
"He was not merely a chip off the old
block, but the old block itself."
- Edmund Burke
"A monk asked Chao-chou Ts'ung shen (777-897) (Joshu), "Has the
oak tree Buddha nature?"
Chao-chou said, "Yes, it has."
The monk said, "When does the oak tree attain Buddhahood?"
Chao-Chou said, "Wait until the great universe collapses."
The monk said, "When does the universe collapse?"
Chao-chou said, "Wait until the oak tree attains Buddhahood." "
- The Gateless Barrier, The Wu-Men Kuan (Mumonkan), Translated by Robert Aitken, Case 37
Oaks of North America by Howard A. Miller, Samuel H. Lamb, 1984.
"Ay me! ay me! the woods decay and
The vapours weep their burthen to the ground.
Man comes and tills the earth and lies beneath,
And after many a summer dies the swan.
Me only cruel immortality consumes:
I wither slowly in thine arms,
Here at the quiet limit,
Here at the quiet limit of the world.
A white-haired shadow roaming like a dream,
The ever silent spaces of the East.
Far-folded mists, and gleaming halls of morn."
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, Tithonus
"Poetry often introduces a mythological
dimension which reflects the close
connections between the gods and commonly encountered trees. A passage
from Vergil's Georgics, in which the poet enumerates grafted trees and
miraculous growth, incorporates several such mythological references:
myrtles, sacred to Venus; the poplar, crown of Hercules; and the acorns
of Jupiter's symbolic oak, referring to his grove at Dodona. The pine
was held sacred to Pan, the Roman Faunus, and in his Eclogues Vergil
describes the pastoral god's home on Mt. Maenalus in Arcadia.
Propertius stresses the god's fondness for the tree, and Horace, for his part, dedicates a pine to the goddess Diana in a famous ode."
- John M. McMahon, Trees: Living Links to the Classical Past
"A tree uses what comes its way to
nurture itself. By sinking its roots deeply into the earth, by accepting the rain that flows towards it, by reaching out to the sun, the tree perfects its character and becomes great. ... Absorb, absorb,
absorb. That is the secret of the tree."
- Deng Ming-Dao, Everyday Tao, 1996, p. 18.
"Plants are the young of the world,
vessels of health and vigor; but they grope ever upward towards consciousness; the trees are imperfect men, and seem to bemoan their imprisonment,
rooted in the ground."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, Second Series, 1844
"O never harm the dreaming world,
the world of green, the world of leaves,
but let its million palms unfold
the adoration of the trees
It is a love in darkness wrought
obedient to the unseen sun,
longer than memory, a thought
deeper than the graves of time.
The turning spindles of the cells
weave a slow forest over space,
the dance of love, creation,
out of time moves not a leaf,
and out of summer, not a shade."
- Kathleen Raine, Collected Poems - Vegetation, 1956
"I see a million hills green with
crop-yielding trees and a million neat farm homes snuggled in the hills. These beautiful tree farms hold the hills from Boston to Austin, from Atlanta to Des Moines. The hills of my vision have farming that fits them and replaces the poor pasture, the gullies, and the abandoned lands that characterize today so large a part of these hills."
- J. Russell Smith, Tree Crops, 1929
"God is the experience of looking at a
tree and saying, "Ah!" "
- Joseph Campbell
Lives of the Trees: An Uncommon History by Diana Wells, 2010
"What does he plant who plants a tree?
He plants the friend of sun and sky;
He plants the flag of breezes free;
The shaft of beauty, towering high;
He plants a home to heaven anigh
For song and mother-croon of bird
In hushed and happy twilight heard -
The treble of heaven's harmony
These things he plants who plants a tree."
- Henry Cuyler Bunner, The Heart of the Tree
"Acts of creation are ordinarily
reserved for gods and poets.
To plant a pine, one need only own a shovel."
- Aldo Leopold
"To early man, trees were objects of awe and wonder.
The mystery of their growth, the movement of their leaves and branches, the way they seemed to die and come again to life in spring, the sudden growth of the plant from the seed - all these appeared to be miracles as indeed
they still are, miracles of nature!"
- Ruskin Bond, The World of Trees
"The tree of love its roots hath
Deep in my heart, and rears its head;
Rich are its fruits: they joy dispense;
Transport the heart, and ravish sense.
In love's sweet swoon to thee I cleave,
Bless'd source of love."
- St. Francis of Asissi, Into Love's Furnace I am Cast
"Let my soul, a shining tree,
Silver branches lift towards thee,
Where on a hallowed winter's night
The clear-eyed angels may alight."
- Siegfried Sassoon, Tree and Sky
Months and Seasons
Quotes, Poems, Sayings, Lore,
Myths, Holidays, Celebrations,
Links, Celebrations, Facts,
Resources, Gardening Chores
"The earth brought forth vegetation,
plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, according to its kind. And God saw that it was good."
- Genesis 1:12
"If a man walks in the woods for love
of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen."
- Henry David Thoreau
"All life is figured by them as a Tree.
Igdrasil, the Ash-tree of existence, has its roots deep-down in the kingdoms of Death: its trunk reaches up heaven-high, spreads its boughs over the whole Universe: it is the Tree of Existence. At the foot of it, in the Death-Kingdom, sit the three Fates - the Past, Present and Future; watering its roots from the Sacred Well. It's "bough," with their buddings and disleafings, - events, things suffered, things done, catastrophes, - stretch through all lands and times. Is not every leaf of it a biography, every fiber there an act or word? Its boughs are the Histories of Nations. The rustle of it is the noise of Human Existence, onwards from of old. .... I find no similitude so true as this of a Tree. Beautiful; altogether beautiful and great."
- Thomas Carlyle
"I never saw a discontented tree.
They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind,
going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!"
- John Muir
"The smell of the sea hugged the fog in the redwood trees,
All cool and dank, dimly lit and rank with green,
And in shadowed limbs the Stellar jays jabbered free,
And me, standing silently, an alien in this enchanted scene.
From behind the mossy grey stumps
the sounds of footsteps crunching fronds of ferns
caught my suddenly wary mind ...
"Hello, old friend," said Chang San Feng.
"Master Chang, what a surprise," said I.
Master Chang sat on a stump, smiled, and said,
"Can you hear the Blue Dragon singing in the decaying tree;
Or is it the White Tiger roaring in the wilderness of your bright white skull?
No matter! The answer is in the questioning; don't you Chan men see?
In the red ball flesh of this decaying tree
Sapless woody shards of centuries of seasons
Nourish the new roots of mindfulness sprouting.
Yes, Yes, but how can it be?
The up-surging waves of life sprout forth from the decaying tree,
As sure as sunrise rolling over the deep black sea.
Coming, coming, endlessly coming; waves of Chi.
Tan Qian's raven roosts for 10,000 moons
in the withered branches of the rotting tree;
then, one day, the weathered tree falls,
nobody hearing, soudlessly crashing
on the forest floor, on some unknown noon.
Over and over, over and over, life bringing death, death
Beyond even the miraculous memories of an old Xian like me;
Watching, watching, sequestered from the strife,
Turning my soul away sometimes because I cannot bear to see.
Even minds may die, but Mind is always free
Bounding beyond, beyond, far beyond you and me;
Somehow finding the Possibility Keys
And unlocking the Door out of the Voids of Eternities."
Master Chang somehow, someway,
slowly sunk into the red ball flesh of the decaying tree.
Then the squawk of the jay
opened my mind's eye to the new day -
- Mike Garofalo
Meetings with Master Chang San Feng
“The root of mindfulness is the red flesh ball of a decayed tree.”
- Zen Master Dogen
“Touzi was asked by a monk, ‘Is there a dragon singing in a decayed tree?’
Touzi replied, ‘I say there is a lion roaring in the skull.’ ”
"Cease. Stop. Have one thought for ten thousand years. Be a cold, ashen, decayed tree. A strip of white silk without words on it." - Zen Master Shishuang
"To bow all the way to the floor and to bow standing is awesome presence in
motion and stillness. Painting a decayed tree and polishing a brick of dead ash
continue without stopping. Even though calendar days are short and urgent,
study of the way in this manner is profound and deep"
- Shinjin Gakudo
"Plant trees. They give us two of the most crucial
elements for our survival: oxygen and books."
- Whitney Brown
Japanese Maples: Momiji and Keade by J. D. Vertrees and Peter Gregory, 2001.
"It is foolish
to let a young redwood
grow next to a house.
Even in this
you will have to choose.
That great calm being,
this clutter of soup pots and books -
Already the branch-tips
brush at the window.
Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life."
- Jane Hirshfield, Tree
"Trees can reduce the heat
of a summer's day, quiet a highway's noise, feed the hungry, provide shelter
from the wind and warmth in the winter. You see, the forests are the sanctuaries
not only of wildlife, but also of the human spirit. And every tree is a compact
- George Bush, U.S. President, 1989
"Since humans first
utilized wood for fire, tools and utensils, certain trees have held a special significance as both practical providers and powerful spiritual presences. The specific trees varied between different cultures and geographic areas, but those held to be 'sacred' shared certain traits in common - unusual size or beauty, the wide range of materials they provided, unique physical characteristics, or simply the power of the tree's spirit could grant it a central place in the folklore and mythology of a culture. Even today, certain trees capture our imagination. The majestic oak, the ancient yew, the evergreens we bring into our homes each winter - all are reminders
of the power that trees can have in our lives."
- Jennifer Smith, Sacred Woods and the Lore of Trees
Next Page: Trees - Quotes for Gardeners, Part IV
The Spirit of Gardening
Over 3,800 Quotations, Poems, Sayings, Quips, One-Liners, Clichés, Quotes, and Insights
Arranged by Over 250 Topics
Over 15 Megabytes of Text
Over 21 Million Webpages (excluding graphics) Served to Readers Around the World
From January 1, 1999 through March 1, 2011
This webpage has been online since January 1999.
Compiled by Karen Garofalo and Mike Garofalo from Red Bluff, California
Last Updated: April 27, 2012
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