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  • Writer's pictureSteph Sells

The Aura of Trees



Trees. We pass by them every single day. They line our streets, surround our neighborhoods, and bring life to our own backyards. They are seen everywhere, yet are often overlooked and underappreciated- like a subtle breeze in the air that brings pleasure by awakening our senses but is not acknowledged. It is important to instead be thoughtful about trees and the value they bring to our world. Each species has a unique aura, meaning its qualities- shapes, sizes, colors, textures, and smells- that radiate to the people and animals that interact with it. This is why we must be intentional and artful with our selection of trees as a way to shape certain experiences within the built environment.


As an example, Magnolia ‘moonglow’ (shown above) may be chosen because of its glossy evergreen leaves and white summer blooms. The type of foliage can create privacy and respite year-round, and the flowers can encourage relaxation by producing a fruity aroma. As an alternative, one may seek the Manzanita, a multistem specimen with dramatic red bark. Its showiness can demand attention or frame the view of understory, making one feel excited and curious to explore plant layering. Another good example is the Paper Birch, a northwest native gem with wispy leaves and unique branches. I can remember carefully peeling off the sheets of bark as a child to scribble on and use for play. With a watchful eye, I have been able to enjoy the view of birds or other creatures that fly to and fro within the narrow canopy. And so, it appears that trees are nature’s gift that keeps on giving. Is there a right way to respect and honor them? How can we pair different species to invite discovery?



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