Trees in Fearrington Village Center

Trees in Fearrington Village Center

Probably most of us in our Village are unaware of the surprisingly large number and different kinds of trees in the Center. lncluded are species native as well as exotic, and deciduous as well as evergreen. The purpose here is to provide a guide for a self-conducted tour for those who want to know more about this botanical treasure.

Credit is due to Fitch Creations landscape staff for help in identifying several specimens.

Now to the Village Center which in this case is limited to what we might call the Village Center Square. It is smaller than the area shown in “The Fearrington Village Directory and Handbook”.

The starting point is at the entrance facing the Inn, just to the right of Dovecote. The first trees to the right are Japanese Maples (Acer palmatum). Some 1,000 cultivars of this species have been selected for size of the trees, and for size, shape and color of the leaves. Several are found throughout Fearrington. There are some 128 species of the Maple genus most of which are native to Asia. But you will encounter some native species further on.

Foliage of the deodar cedar

Follow the brick walk to the right. Next are two large Deodar Cedars (Cedrus deodara), native to the Himalayas–pretty far from home, but obviously happy here.

Moving along on the walk, there is a Holly (llex sp.) with its English ivy-covered trunk. There are 400-600 species of holly widely spread geographically with both deciduous and evergreen examples. We tend to think of the evergreen ones with bright red berries as part of Christmas decorations.

Next is an evergreen Leyland Cypress (Cupressus x Leylandii). Widely used in landscaping, it was a chance cross in a botanical garden in England between two North American cypress species.

Sugar mapleAcross the street in the islet is a lone Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) considered as a hardwood species. Think maple syrup. And in the fall, it often displays striking yellow to orange leaves. Maple is considered a “tone” wood because it carries sound waves well. It is used in numerous musical instruments, especially stringed instruments.

Of course, it probably said “Good bye” in Serbo-Croatian, but only if you looked at it backwards in a mirror.

Turn left onto the path leading to Fearrington House. On the right is a multi-stemmed Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), a representative of the beautiful flowering trees from China and Korea (also found throughout the lndian Subcontinent) that bloom during the summer months. Colors vary from deep purple to red to pink to white and the smooth trunks are quite attractive.

Continuing toward the lnn, on the left is a four-trunk Camellia (Camellia sp.). The 100-250 described species are native to East-Southeast Asia (leaves of C. sinensis are used for brewing our familiar tea). But here in Fearrington we see the late-winter early-spring blooming types. On the same side is a multi-trunk Crape Myrtle followed a small Japanese Maple. Then a Redbud (Cercis canadensis) just before the arbor on the left.

The early pinkish flowers of native Eastern Redbud are a harbinger of spring in our state. It flowers before the leaves come out, with flower buds emerging on branches and on the trunk. ln earlier times in some parts of the Southern Appalachians, green Southern magnoliatwigs were used for seasoning wild game such as possum and deer. Thus, sometimes it was known as the Spicewood tree.

To the right and set back are several slender-trunked deciduous Magnolias (Magnolia sp.). And adjacent to them to the left an impressive cluster of evergreen Southern Magnolias (M. grandiflora). There are some 201 species of this genus. Ancient fossil remains date back some 95 million years.

At the arbor, enter the small garden. Fearrington House is on the right. The first tree in the corner to the left is a Weeping Cherry (Prunus sp.).Then a large Southern Magnolia, followed by a huge white-flowered crape myrtle. ln the back to the left is a Golden Rain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) with its yellow flowers. A native to East Asia, it is also known as “Pride of India”.

Also in the center back are two good examples of Cryptomeria. This coniferous evergreen is the only species of the genus. It is the national tree of Japan where it is commonly planted around temples and shrines.


Before leaving the small garden, take a look from the path at the rear right leading to the “Meeting Rooms”. Those are two large Pecan trees (Carya illinoinensis). This species of the hickory tree is native to the US and Mexico. I guess we most often associate the kernels of the nuts with pecan pie and ice-cream. The wood is valued for smoking meats.

Now back to the arbor. Turn left on the path to the lnn. On the left note the large, stately, old White Oaks (Quercus alba). They must be somewhere between 100 and 200 years old. This species of oak, in addition to being an excellent shade tree, is a commercially valuable wood used in construction, the manufacture of furniture, and barrels for aging Wine, Sherry, Bourbon and Scotch, etc.

Oak leaves: red (L), white (R)

There are around 600 species of oaks with both deciduous and evergreen representatives. Thus, not surprisingly, species identification is sometimes difficult. But it is helpful to categorize a large number of them as either White Oak (Q. alba) or Red Oak (Q. rubra) types. Leaves of the white oaks mostly lack bristles on the lobe tips. Those of the redFront: black gum, behind: white oak oaks typically have sharp lobe tips with spiny bristles at the end.

Now back to those stately white oaks on the path to the lnn. Between the first two on the left is a large Black Gum or Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica). lt is R.B. Fitch’s favorite. This species is an important food source for many birds that migrate in the fall. The wood is dense and resistant to splitting. It has been used mainly for mauls and wheel hubs.

Return to the street entrance and turn left noting the large Ash Leaf Maple (Acer negundo) on the left. Then another Cryptomeria followed by a Holly. There is a small Water Oak (Q. nigra) just across the street on the projection of the lawn.

Note the rather narrow leaves with slightly “emerging” lobes. From a distance it looks like a Willow Oak (Q. phellos).

Turn left onto the path leading to the Barn. A holly on the right and left, and a little further on to the left a hybrid of the native deciduous Southern Cucumber Tree (Magnolia acuminata, variety “Elizabeth”). lt is one of the largest members of the genus. The name comes from the shape of the green-colored stage of the upright fruit. There is large Holly to the left corner of the Barn.

Return to the street and turn left on the walk. First a large Red Oak (Q. rubra) on the Ieft. As indicated by its name, this Oak has beautiful dark red foliage in the fall. lt is also a valuable timber tree.

Cross the street to the path leading to Mclntyre’s and the Granary Cafe. Another White Oak is on the right, and on the left the three small trees are Deciduous Hollies. This species is not only different by being deciduous. Trees are either male or female. The first one is the male and is needed to pollinate the flowers of the next two females. Red berries often persist long after the leaves have fallen.

Chinese fringe treeAcross the path in front of Mclntyre’s to the right is a large Chinese Fringe Tree (Chionanthus retusus). lt is spectacular in the spring when in bloom. There is an example of the native species of this tree, White Fringe Tree (C. virginicus), just across the street on the left side of the Village Center “lsland”.

Turn left on the path leading to the restrooms. A small Japanese Maple is on the left corner. Then on the right are two exotic Kousa Dogwoods (Cornus kousa). The common native flowering dogwood, (C. florida), is found throughout the Village. There are 30-60 species of this genus. While noted primarily for the flowers, the dense, fine-grained wood of our local flowering dogwood has been used for loom shuttles, tool handles, skates and mountain dulcimers.

On the left is a Redbud with a native Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda) behind it. Ahead and just to the right is a huge example of this Pine, a valuable lumber tree, common throughout the Village. lts branches spread when there are no competing trees. But when in the forest they have long branchless trunks with a small crown.

Pines are native to most of the Northern Hemisphere, and considered overall to be the most important tree species. The Long Leaf Pine is our State Tree. Pines are used for timber, pulpwood, landscaping, Christmas trees, needles for mulch and edible nuts. The Longleaf Pine, native to the Southeast, was very important during the 1700s and 1800s as a source of “naval store”–resin, turpentine and timber.

Now back to the path and left toward the Granary. Note the large Redbud on the right just past the arbor, and the Japanese Maple to its left. Ahead at the corner of the Granary is a variegated Japanese Maple with very small leaves. Passing the Granary, there is a cluster of Loblollies on the left side. To the right at the path’s end, note the Fig bush. lt bears fruit!

Cross the street to the path leading past the Village Beauty Salon. Those are Flowering Cherry trees (Prunus sp.) on both corners of West Camden street. Quite a show in the spring. The genus “Prunus” includes cherries, plums, peaches, apricots and almonds. The cherry is the Prunus Subgenus “Cerasus“. The cherry tree is important in landscaping (flowering species), for edible fruit, feed for birds (wild cherry) and for the manufacture of furniture.

The tree on the left just before the walk to the Salon entrance is a Red Oak. There are also two exceptional Japanese Zelkovas (Zelkova serrata) in front of the Salon. They are members of the elm family native to Europe and S/Se Asia. Note the short trunk followed by profuse branching. (The street leading to the Village Center past the Silo and Barn is lined on both sides with Zelkovas).

Take a little more time to see two different species. Walk on the path by the Zelkovas to the entrance on the right to the private residence. The small multi-branched tree on the left is a Styrax (S.sp.). And to its right a two-trunk River Birch (Betula nigra).

Styrax with some 600 species is native to the temperate and tropical regions of the Northern Hemisphere. lt has striking white pendulous flowers. Since antiquity the resin from it has been used in perfumes, incense and medicine.

River Birch is one of the few heat-tolerant species of that family. Native Americans used boiled sap as a sweetener similar to maple syrup.Maple leaves: Sugar(L), red(R)

The Red Maple (Acer rubrum) on the right is the first of several that line that side of the walk. To appreciate why “red”, walk down Caswell in the fall and behold the foliage. We can easily distinguish it from the look-alike Sugar Maple by its leaves. The margin of the Red ones are serrated but smooth on the Sugar Maple.

Just to the right of the entrance to the Salon are a Crape Myrtle and a large Holly. Some of the Village’s most impressive Crape Myrtles line West Camden on the way up to Fitch Creations Sales Office. Note the smooth trunks.

Continue on the walk and opposite the “Fearrington Village” facade cross over West Camden to the path leading to the SunTrust Bank. The entrance is flanked by two Red Oak types, one the left and the other on the right down three parking spaces. Next, on the right is an evergreen Live Oak. There is a Willow Oak on the left just before the entrance to the Bank.

Bear right and continue on the path to where you would cross the street to the path traversing the “lsland” leading to Mclntyre’s. Before crossing note the Red Maples on both sides. Now cross over to the lsland. On the right is a small Water Oak with a much larger one set back on the left side. Then lastly, on the left, a Sugar Maple.

This concludes the tour. A corresponding guide is available for Camden Park.

lf additional information is needed, contact the Fitch Creations landscape staff, or use the internet (Wikipedia).

Guy Baird, 230 Greystone, F.V.


Photos and web production by Jim Brooking