The Photography of D L Ennis, and more!


Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Couple of Spring Blooming Trees in the Blue Ridge

Image: by D L Ennis, Eastern Redbud (Cercis Canadensis)

A leisurely drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway in the spring is a relaxing, even meditative, experience if you can get in touch with your spiritual side and allow your senses to guide the way. Take in the freshness of the cool spring air and keep your eyes alert to what is going on around you. Yes, watch the road, but you can be safe and take in the beauty that abounds.

Spring is the time when creamy-white flowers of the Dogwood (Cornus florida) from an umbrella over the winter skeleton of this beautiful little tree. I think that nearly everyone can identify this tree when it is in bloom, but, there is another tree that blooms at about the same time that I still hear people ask what it is. That tree would be the Eastern redbud which the buds are not red at all; they range from a rosy-pink to lavender to mauve; there is even a white flowering one though it is less common.

The dogwood together with the Eastern redbud is one of my favorite spring combinations. When you can find them growing next to one another, as they do in my gardens, they make a gorgeous bouquet of color and textural contrast!

Image: by D L Ennis, Eastern Redbud (Cercis Canadensis) and Dogwood (Cornus florida) together. Click image to enlarge.

The Eastern Redbud, (Cercis canadensis,) is common from southernmost Canada to piedmont Alabama and East Texas. In the wild, Eastern redbud is a frequent native under-story tree in mixed forests and hedgerows. It is also much planted as a landscape ornamental plant.

It typically grows to 8-12 m tall, with a short, often twisted trunk and spreading branches. The bark is dark in color, smooth, later scaly with ridges somewhat apparent, sometimes with maroon patches. The twigs are slender and zigzag, nearly black in color, spotted with lighter lenticels. The winter buds are tiny, rounded and dark red to chestnut in color. The leaves are alternate, simple, cordate in shape with an entire margin, 7-12cm (3-5 inches) long and wide, thin and papery, and may be slightly hairy below.

The flowers are showy, light to dark pink in color, 1.5 cm (½ inch) long, appearing in clusters from March to May, on bare stems before the leaves. The flowers are pollinated by long-tongued bees such as blueberry bees and carpenter bees. Short-tongued bees apparently cannot reach the nectaries. The flowers are used in salads and for making pickled relish, while the inner bark of twigs gives a mustard-yellow dye used to dye wool.

The fruit are flattened, dry, brown, pea-like pods, 5-10 cm (2-4 inches) long that contain flat, elliptical, brown seeds 6 mm (¼ inch) long, maturing in August to October.

Though some folks in the United States call the Eastern Redbud (Cercis Canadensis,) the Judas-tree, though it really make no difference, they are technically wrong. The Judas-tree (Cercis siliquastrum) is a small tree to 10-15 m tall native to the south of Europe and southwest Asia, in Iberia, southern France, Italy, Greece and Asia Minor, which forms a handsome low tree with a flat spreading head. In early spring it is covered with a profusion of magenta pink flowers, which appear before the leaves. The flowers have an agreeably acidic bite, and are eaten in mixed salad or made into fritters. The tree was frequently featured in the 16th and 17th century herbals. The elaborate mediaeval mythology that developed around the figure of Judas Iscariot (Died c. A.D. 30) would have had him hang himself from this tree, which may suggest that it was among the European trees that had some pre-Christian cultic significance.

Judas Iscariot (jooh-duhs i-skar-ee-uht) was one of the 12 Apostles; the Apostle who betrayed Jesus to the authorities for thirty pieces of silver in the New Testament. When soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Judas identified their victim by kissing him. The next day, driven by guilt, Judas hanged himself.

The Judas tree was considered a favorite of witches, perhaps on account of its traditional association with the apostle Judas Iscariot. It was considered foolhardy to approach a Judas tree after nightfall.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Free Handbook for Landowners

Press Release

Free Handbook for Landowners Now Available:
Appalachian Voices releases second edition “Managing your woodlands: a guide for southern Appalachian landowners”

Contact: Mary Anne Hitt or Caitlen Nelis or 828-262-1500

Appalachian Voices is pleased to announce the second edition of Managing Your Woodlands: A Guide for Southern Appalachian Landowners. This free guide serves as a manual for private forest landowners who strive to be good stewards and would like to learn about alternative methods for managing and maintaining a healthy forest. The handbook also includes a companion DVD Landowner’s Guide to Sustainable Forestry: Maximizing Profits While Protecting Water Quality a new documentary film by the Model Forest Policy Program.

To request a FREE copy please contact:

877-APP-VOICE, toll free

The second edition handbook shares insightful information on forest management plans, working with foresters and loggers, management options and techniques, forest ecology, forest health problems, economic considerations, and financial incentive programs for good management. The resource section of the handbook connects landowners with organizations and information to assist in making a reliable investment in forestland.

The companion DVD allows the viewer to see real life examples of sustainable forestry and protection of water quality, our most critical natural resource. The film features foresters and landowners from around the country, but particularly Missouri, Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

If your organization would like to help publicize this FREE resource to your members and supporters, please contact us. We would be happy to provide a speaker for your event and other outreach material.

Appalachian Voices brings people together to solve the environmental problems having the greatest impact on the central and southern Appalachian Mountains. Our mission is to empower people to defend our region’s rich natural and cultural heritage by providing them with tools and strategies for successful grassroots campaigns.

For more information on the handbook and our work, visit

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Spring on the Blue Ridge Parkway of Virginia

Image: by D L Ennis, Blue Ridge Parkway

Spring is a wonderful time of year to take the family for a leisurely ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is not a lot of traffic yet and won’t be until after Memorial Day. There are plenty of beautiful and safe places to have a picnic and let the kids run and play.

To me springs new growth that fills natures pallet with varying shades of green in the form of new foliage on the mixed deciduous forest, the ever present evergreens of cedar, white and yellow pine, and the Douglas Fir and the blossoms of the redbud and dogwood are the major attraction.

Image right: by D L Ennis, Spring on the Parkway

It seems that around every bend your eyes meet with the soft lavender to pink blossoms of the redbud, and often times the branches and flowers of the dogwood are intertwined with them. If there is a haven it would have to be adorned in the fresh foliage and blossoms of spring in the Blue Ridge Mountains!

Image left: by D L Ennis, Spring on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Before the gentle beauty of spring wanes into the deeper shades of summer, if it is possible, take a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoy the meditative beauty of a Blue Ridge spring, you’ll be glad you did!

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Blue Ridge Scenes

To our regulars, sorry for not being around much lately…I am trying to rectify this!

We are always looking out for other writers/photographers (either or) so if you are interested please use the “contact us” button in the sidebar…Thanks!

Meadows and Mountains

Meadows and MountainsA look across the meadows at the mountains in the distance…taken in Amherst County, Virginia.

Virginia Plantation House

Virginia Plantation HouseThis is an old plantation house in Bedford County, Virginia and it has obviously had some restoration and modernizing done to it. However, it still holds much of the charter of this style of home that it originally had. This image has been toned and textured and is best viewed large if you have the proclivity and time!

Cold Drinks

Cold DrinksThis is the window of an old country store in Bedford County, Virginia. Some of what you see is reflections of the sky and clouds, and part of the roof overhanging the front of the store. You can also see some of the items in the store window; paintings a flower pot, etc. If you view it large you will be able to see more detail…I think it’s worth it!

Breathing-in the Morn

Breathing-in the MornTaken on a lake in the Blue Ridge Mountains: the lake and all life around it awakens and breaths in the morning as the sun tops the trees to bid the day welcome. Please, view this large if you are so inclined and have the time…

Mountain Mist

Mountain MistTaken on a misty day in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia…

The Old Grist Mill

The Old Grist MillThis is an old grist mill that sits on private property in Campbell County, Virginia.

Lonely Reflections

Lonely ReflectionsI’m not sure what I think feels lonelier, an empty bench with only supposed human attachment in an isolated location such as in this image, or a bench occupied by a lone person in the middle of a bustling city…they both touch me deeply! I positioned the bench on the left side of the pic, turned slightly facing out of the pic to hopefully portray more of a sense of separation; isolation; loneliness…

Click on any image to see a larger version…

To view more of my images of the Blue Ridge click here.

Prints are available of any of my images; for more info click here.