18" x 22"
Click the thumbnails on the left to see a section of the painting in greater detail.
Even if you are familiar with domestic cherry trees you may not recognize a wild Black Cherry tree in the forest. Standing beside the Black Cherry tree you would see nothing but a dark, almost black, trunk—as much as 2 feet (60 cm) in diameter—covered with bark that is broken into oblong scales. The tree would likely be tall as well, over 70 feet (22 m) in height. However, if you happen to have a pair of birding binoculars, focus it on the top and you will see the same shiny, reddish-brown bark that is characteristic of cultivated cherry trees. The Black Cherry in this painting is young enough to still have its youthful reddish-brown bark. Also, because it is growing in a field it has assumed a spreading habit. The combination makes it look much like a domestic cherry tree.
The leaves of this tree are what caught my attention and they are different from the leaves of all the other types of cherry trees. The Black Cherry has long lance-shaped leaves that droop. They droop even more in the fall when they turn a range of colors from brilliant red and orange to pale salmon shades. I stood under the tree and looked all around. The long, hanging leaves encircled the tree all the way to the ground and their pastel colors changed slightly as they rotated in the breeze. It was a magical.
The painting also tells a story, but it is not about the tree. It is about the Canadian Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) that covers the field below the tree. The familiar golden yellow flower heads are still visible in the swale where a higher moisture level allows them to mature more slowly. In contrast, up on the little hill the flowers have already turned to the characteristic white parachutes that blow in the wind. By the way, the name “solidago” means "to make whole" referring to the fact that goldenrod has been used topically for wound healing. To the right you can see a few clusters of fall Asters as well. And in the background is a grove of young White Birch trees (Betula papyrifera).
The Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) grows throughout most of the U.S. except some western states and in Canada it grows in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. Canadian Goldenrod grows just about everywhere in the U.S. and Canada except in Florida and a few of its neighboring States. This little tree and its golden friends live in Southern Ontario in the Albion Hills Conservation Park near Toronto.