As you select trees for your landscape design, you need to consider variables like tree shape, soil makeup, yard size, climate, and growth rate. While these details are essential to creating a long-lasting and beautiful landscape, they may not be enough to help you choose the perfect trees for your yard.
If you need a little inspiration, continue reading. In this blog, we will describe a few legendary trees that you can plant.
Apple trees do more than provide delicious fruit you can enjoy. They are also the source of some of the most varied tree legends from around the world. One of the most famous relates to the lauded King Arthur.
According to this British myth, King Arthur’s devious but magical sister Morgan le Fay ruled the Isle of Apples. Also known as Avalon, this island housed thousands of apple trees. Ancient peoples attributed magical properties, including the ability to heal, to these fruits.
When King Arthur fell in battle, his knights of the round table transported him to Avalon so Morgan le Fay and her Island of Apples could heal him. However, the wound was fatal, and they buried Arthur among the trees.
Ancients throughout Europe associated elder trees with magic. For example, the Norse goddess Freya used one for her home. Early Norsemen loved Freya because of her beauty, intelligence, and power. She also chose the bravest warriors who died in combat to join her in the afterlife. Because Freya lived in one, elder trees represent a safe haven for travelers who need a place to rest.
Ancient Welsh also believed in the elder tree’s mystical properties. According to their tales, a dwarf elder tree will grow anywhere people shed blood. The tree represented “a beginning from the end,” and it showed new life wherever death had been.
Hawthorn trees have a complex history. Some cultures saw them as harbingers of doom while others used them to ward off evil. Greeks and Romans used hawthorn leaves in marriage flower arrangements because they believed the leaves foreshadowed a long, happy life. Germans used them in funerals to help souls reach heaven.
One intriguing legend comes from Scotland. The Scots once believed that fairies used hawthorn trees as a meeting place. As a result, people often gave any hawthorn groves wide berth to avoid irritating these magical creatures. According to the legend, a group of young farmers were once tending a field. One lazy boy meandered his plow too close to a hawthorn and noticed a table covered with delicious-looking food. He ate a few tasty, otherworldly morsels and transformed into a wise, diligent worker for the rest of his life.
If you are familiar with Greek mythology, you have likely heard about oracles who foretell future events. But did you know that Zeus’ first oracle was a tree? The Whispering Oak of Dodona did not speak, but its leaves would rustle in the wind. If worthy, the listener would understand the message.
Unlike most trees on this list, the Whispering Oak of Dodona was an actual tree (although its mystical powers are suspect). When Christianity become more popular, church leaders ordered its removal. Now all that remains is its legend.
Ancient Mesopotamians revered the juniper tree because its scent could reach the goddesses Ishtar (known as Inanna in Sumeria). Legend goes that Ishtar traveled to the underworld, where the queen of the realm imprisoned her. Ishtar pleaded for her brother and those on earth to not let her die there. She commanded, “Together with him, play ye for me, ye weepers and lamenting women! That the dead may rise up and inhale the incense.”
Her worshipers used a mixture of juniper wood, berries, and oil along with myrrh, cinnamon, and frankincense to call her back to life and honor her after she returned.
Native American legends provide beautiful explanations of the natural world. One legend explains why most trees lose their leaves inthe winter while pines stay green all year long.
According to the Cherokee tale, when other birds flew south for the winter, one injured sparrow remained behind. Too weak to escape to a warmer climate, the lone bird sought a refuge within the surrounding trees. First, he asked the oak for shelter, but the tree did not want an unwelcome guest annoying him all winter long. The maple rejected him as well.
The sparrow finally turned to the pine. This humble tree worried the bird wouldn’t get enough shelter from its small needles but was willing to share what it could. Because of its generosity, the Creator blessed the pine tree with green, durable leaves throughout the year.
As you choose trees for your yard, remember that you can imbue thousands of years of history into the design. These are just a few legendary trees you can place; there are many others you can explore. Learn more about the meaning behind plants and how to incorporate them in your landscaping by browsing our other blogs.