The Secret Life of Trees
Having worked with Live Edge Design in Duncan for the last 16 years, I’ve come to understand a little about the life of trees and a whole lot about their value.
Live Edge refers to the living part of the tree, its outermost layer of fibrous wood before you reach the bark, the layer that acts as a straw and draws water from the earth and brings the tree ‘life’. It is this curvaceous edge that inspired the creation of a local furniture company in 2006 and continues to inspire a line of West Coast furniture and the artisans who work with the trees.
When working with clients I enjoy reading the story within the grain detail of the wood. Closely knit, darker areas of grain beside a knot can tell you which way a tree grew and how much weight it was bearing in that branch.
At this time of year trees all around us are busy carrying sap through their fibrous cambium layers, encouraging another ring of growth within the grain. In some species of tree you can read the radial grain rings and see when we may have had a particularly wet Spring with pronounced growth.
The work we do helps preserve trees at the end of their lifecycle into cherished heirloom pieces. A BigLeaf maple will grow to 120-150 years and begin to decay, become unstable and get taken down and it is in this process that I have witnessed the depth of value that trees provide. I’ve seen families cry for the loss of a tree that held dear memories, I’ve seen 80 different artisans use every piece of a single tree to create an art exhibit of economic and sustainable impact and I’ve seen the last leftover pieces of this same wood provide heat for homes and nourishment for garden beds.
If you have an interesting tree tale, a maple in need of a new lease of life or tree knowledge you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you;
The title of this piece ‘The Secret Life of Trees’ is also a book by Colin Tudge exploring trees around the globe; how they live and why they matter.
Another book you may be interested in is ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’ by Peter Wohlleben,