Flowering Trees Were Calling Me: A Stroll Through Chestnut Hill

On April 9 of this our present year, I went out in search of signs of spring, which was damn well taking its time in arriving. Though I didn’t come up empty-handed, the cupboard indeed was awfully bare. Naturally, having donned the hat of writer a few years ago, I wrote about the expedition, publishing the story six days later.

In the interim, however, nature began bubbling halfway decently in my region. To wit, two or three days after the 9th I began to spot some flowering trees in bloom. Finally! Spring was coming out from behind the curtains.

Now, I had no particular plans to place a second springtime-related opus into the ethers of cyberspace in 2018. Believe me, more than enough of those bad boys are already up there. But it turns out that I couldn’t resist. Last week’s Monday clinched the decision for me. Conditions-wise the day was ideal. The skies were so blue, my knees went weak looking at them. The temperature was 68°F (20°C), one of my favorite numbers on the dial because it meant that if a stroll around town would cause me to break a sweat, the sweat would flow only minimally. Ergo, a stroll was in order. But where to? I hadn’t been in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia for a while. It’s a large, beautiful area, countrified and quaint and pretty hip. A village unto itself in effect, Chestnut Hill is almost always a good place to pass your time in.

Callery pear tree

At about 2:00 PM I jumped into my trusty 2001 Honda Civic. Eight miles later I was in Chestnut Hill. I was psyched for the impending walk. And I knew what my focus would be, photographically anyway. While enjoying the pleasures of the day I, for no brilliant reason, would take pictures mostly of flowering trees.

Saucer magnolia tree

I spent an hour and a half in Chestnut Hill, walking along all nice and relaxed. Everything was quite peaceful. I heard but one barking dog, unlike in my suburban nook where barks are as common as dandelions. And though lots of cars were on the roads, not a one of their drivers honked within my range of hearing during my excursion. I don’t know, maybe Chestnut Hill is a magnet for good quality canines and humans.

Getting back to spring, it didn’t take long for me to conclude that it had a long way to go. I mean, 90% of the non-flowering deciduous trees (maples, oaks, whatever) had no leaves on them whatsoever, though the budding process was under way.

But the flowering trees were another story. Though there weren’t as many of them as I’d have liked to see (and I assume that all members of the flowering varieties were in fact blooming), there were enough. And I took a good look at every one I passed. Who can resist gentle creations aglow in creamy whites, pretty pinks and other reddish shades? Not me.

Cherry trees on W. Southampton Ave., looking west
Cherry trees on W. Southampton Ave., looking east

One block in particular was a wonderland of sorts. I speak of W. Southampton Avenue. I was heading downhill on Germantown Avenue, the steeply sloped main drag filled with clothing boutiques and restaurants and other shops, when a marvelous mass of white blossoms caught my eye. They were attached to a series of cherry trees that occupy a good bit of W. Southampton, a residential block. I crossed Germantown Avenue and dove into the milky white scene. From Germantown Avenue I hadn’t noticed it, what with my strong case of myopia, but a petal storm was going on. Dropping from the trees in big numbers, petals were floating through the air rhapsodically. Man, it was beautiful. I was all set to lay myself down on the sidewalk and go blissful. But then I remembered that I’m not so good at going blissful. Shit, I knew I should have enrolled in a Zen Buddhism program years ago! You live and you learn. Sometimes.

Well, I snapped some pictures of W. Southampton, hoping like crazy that I’d capture some mid-air petals. If you look closely at the photos that I’ve included you’ll see a few. They and their siblings were a sight.

Saucer magnolia tree

Ah, the mystery of petals. Towards the end of my walk I found myself ambling along a stretch of sidewalk covered with pink ones. They had fallen from a saucer magnolia tree, which nevertheless was still grandly laden with flowers. The next day, at home, I gave a bit of thought to those and the other petals that I’d encountered in Chestnut Hill. So many already were off their trees, even though the trees had been in blossom for less, probably, than two weeks. Seems a shame that the great flowering-tree show comes and goes as quickly as it does. If its design had been left up to me, I’d have commanded that it last for two months or more. A magnificent extravaganza, it’s worthy of that, without question.

Not long after stepping through the carpet of magnolia petals, I found myself back on the block where I’d parked my old Civic. I liked the way my car looked, demure and cute despite the large blotches on its trunk and roof, as it waited patiently for me in front of a small, adorable cherry tree. The tree’s bone-white blossoms contrasted righteously with the Honda’s deep green paint. A photograph of the scene cried out to be taken. A few minutes later I got into the Honda and made my way back to the burbs. A flowery excursion had come to its end.

P.S. I’m indebted to Karen Flick, landscape manager at Philadelphia’s Awbury Arboretum. I’m a nincompoop when it comes to flora. I sent some of my photos to her, and she identified the trees for me.

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76 thoughts on “Flowering Trees Were Calling Me: A Stroll Through Chestnut Hill

  1. Candice May 2, 2018 / 12:16 am

    The fruit trees aren’t in bloom here yet. Your photos make me anxious to see that short lived beauty in my neighbourhood. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. gerard oosterman May 2, 2018 / 12:33 am

    We are having a very late autumn in Australia. The trees are confused and nervous about the winter not coming at all. Should they keep their leaves?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lynette d'Arty-Cross May 2, 2018 / 12:54 am

    Beautiful photos! Your spring looks lovely (I’m a little jealous) but even here north of 60° N latitude we finally have warmer temps and spring bears. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Janet Sunderland May 2, 2018 / 1:09 am

    Outside my upstairs window is a blooming and glorious happy redbud and beyond it, Lady Willow luxuriously switches her new beauty. Spring was a long time coming this year. Thank you for such glorious photos.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. ccgoesdutch May 2, 2018 / 1:39 am

    As a child in the 60’s living in Alexandria VA. the first school field trip was to Washington DC. The memory that struck me the most were the cherry trees. To this day when I see a cherry tree I remember that trip. Trees are beautiful anyway, with or without blooms but it seems the bloom gives it that extra special moment when it wants to show off to the world. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Still the Lucky Few May 2, 2018 / 2:10 am

    Don’t mean to brag, but here in Bloomin’ Victoria, Canada, most of the plum and cherry trees are finished blossoming. Spring was cool and wet, but they performed anyway! So glad you posted the accurately identified flora!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 2, 2018 / 9:18 am

      Karen, from the Awbury Arboretum, was a huge help to me. I’d have been unable to identify any trees without her assistance.


  7. andrewcferguson May 2, 2018 / 2:18 am

    Great photos! The main street near our flat in Edinburgh, West Savile Road, is lined with beautiful pink cherries, but like where you are, they’re only now coming into blossom whereas normally they’d have been out 3 weeks ago at least.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 2, 2018 / 9:19 am

      Hey, Andrew. I guess that Scotland and Pennsylvania are on the same timetable seasons-wise.


  8. America On Coffee May 2, 2018 / 4:18 am

    Aboretums are a great inspiration. especially for the dawn oif Spring. Another lovely excursion. Love the photos!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Emma Cownie May 2, 2018 / 4:30 am

    Lovely trees. Blossom is so beautiful. We have a pear tree in our garden and the blossom often seems to coincide with wet and windy weather so it doesn’t last long!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. joyce hamilton May 2, 2018 / 6:15 am

    I was impressed that you knew all the names of the….then l found out that you had help. Nice article and pictures.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 2, 2018 / 9:23 am

      I needed a lot of help, and I got it from Karen at the Awbury Arboretum.
      Thanks for being a very loyal reader, Joyce. I appreciate it!


  11. tylerus May 2, 2018 / 7:32 am

    Thank you for a lovely spring tour. 🙂 (Winter just left here Sunday – hope to see some blooms soon.)

    Liked by 2 people

  12. mariezhuikov May 2, 2018 / 8:36 am

    Much more scenic than a parking ramp stairway! We don’t even have leaves on the trees yet here.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Robert Parker May 2, 2018 / 9:11 am

    Really glad to read your post, and see your pics – – yeah, we’ll all have to keep working on the zen thing and find a spot for petal-bathing. I feel the same way in the fall, but turns out, climbing around a maple tree with superglue, to keep the beautiful foliage up there, just isn’t practical & it annoys the squirrels.
    I first went up there, to see Wissahickon Heights/Chestnut Hill, because I was interning at the Philos. Soc. archives, and helping with the papers of Henry Howard Houston II, whose grandfather built the railroad and a lot of houses there. Whenever I settle down, it should be a neighborhood with flowering trees and a cricket club.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 2, 2018 / 9:43 am

      Hi Robert. Didn’t know that you’re familiar with Chestnut Hill. Right, there’s a cricket club! Can’t be too many of them in the USA.


      • Robert Parker May 2, 2018 / 9:55 am

        I think baseball and football are just fads, and feel pretty certain we’ll switch to cricket and rugby any day now, about the same time I can afford a house in that neighborhood.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. tanjabrittonwriter May 2, 2018 / 11:05 am

    That it pays off to heed inspiration whenever she knocks, your lovely post proves! Here is to springtime, Neil.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. JT Twissel May 2, 2018 / 12:30 pm

    I can feel a sneezing fit coming on but blossoming trees are always a glorious site!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. alhenry May 2, 2018 / 2:42 pm

    Neil, did you guyz somehow dodge the wintry week of April 14-21? We had snow every day (or freezing rain, which in life-and-death terms for both plants and humans is more dangerous). Well, now we are at 86F which is my idea of heaven–flipflops, tank tops, fans whirring peacefully as I write. But, as your pictures so beautifully express, blossom time in spring is visually the most stunning season. Keep walking, my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 2, 2018 / 4:35 pm

      I think the weather was okay here during the week you mention. Right now it’s around 88 degrees F. Too hot for me. My fave temp is about 68 degrees F.
      Enjoy yourself, Amy. Be seeing you —

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Fictionophile May 2, 2018 / 3:03 pm

    Neil, one of the few perks of getting older is being able to ‘smell the roses’ (read gaze at the trees) without feeling guilt that you should be doing something else. Seriously though, your photos have changed my assumptions about your city. Philly is showing her pretty knickers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 2, 2018 / 4:37 pm

      Hi Lynne. Philadelphia has some beautiful neighborhoods and parks. I think that Phila’s parks encompass more territory than those in just about any other city in the USA.
      Thanks for stopping by. Take care —

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Ann Coleman May 2, 2018 / 4:07 pm

    That was a beautiful Spring stroll through Chestnut Hill. I would have written about it too!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 2, 2018 / 4:40 pm

      Ann, I’ve got to say that I get a kick out of these kinds of excursions. And having the opportunity to write about them makes me more apt to go on the excursions.
      I’ll be seeing you. Enjoy the upcoming days.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Alyson May 2, 2018 / 4:15 pm

    The Atlantic lies between us, but here in the North of Scotland the same trees have suddenly burst forth with blossom – I really thought the spectacle was going to be delayed this year what with the cold snap in March but not at all. Some lovely pics here Neil – Just such a shame the blossom lasts for only a couple of weeks. Always next year.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Cindy May 2, 2018 / 6:29 pm

    Beautiful photos, Neil! For next year’s spring excursion, I suggest a sunny day stroll along Kelly Drive. The river, the sculpture, and the flowering cherry and pear trees make stunning scenery. I couldn’t live in the city without flowers and trees!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Christy B May 3, 2018 / 11:48 am

    Perhaps a second career as a photographer is ahead for you, Neil 😉 I’m loving those trees although like you say such a shame that the petals fall so quickly from their branches. I’m going for a walk today and will be sure to take notice of the trees and think of your well-written post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 3, 2018 / 1:03 pm

      Enjoy the walk, Christy. I suppose that spring is the best time of year for walks, although autumn is awfully good too.
      Thanks for dropping by. I’ll be seeing you —


  22. Isabelle May 3, 2018 / 12:07 pm

    Hi Neil,

    This is a beautiful post from the beginning to the end. The cherry blossom is breathtaking. The image of creamy-white blossoms combined with your deep-green car makes it the perfect finish of the post. Lovely.

    Thank you.


    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 3, 2018 / 1:04 pm

      Hello there, Isabelle. I’m glad I took that photo just before I headed home. I hadn’t realized that my car was parked next to a good-looking tree.
      Bye. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. cincinnatibabyhead May 3, 2018 / 1:39 pm

    There you go again. Getting all nature like. When it comes down to it, you have found something that people just never get. Hang onto it.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Laurie Graves May 3, 2018 / 3:11 pm

    Oh, beautiful, beautiful! Not yet in Maine, but soon!

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Annika Perry May 4, 2018 / 9:20 am

    And I thought you were a tree expert, Neil!! 😃 Full marks for getting help identifying all the trees. I love cherry blossoms and flowering trees and you kindly offer up a feast – some are huge and the falling petals are wonderful. I’m sure you don’t need Zen to just enjoy the beauty of the carpet of coloured petals on the ground, watching them fall…although laying on the pavement underneath the trees is probably not the best plan! Glad you decided to post your second Spring outing! Happy Walking & Writing! 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 4, 2018 / 11:06 am

      In my part of Pennsylvania, leaves finally are coming out on what had been barren trees. Green now is everywhere, and will be with us for the next five or six months.
      Thanks for the visit, Annika. Much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Annika Perry May 4, 2018 / 12:31 pm

        We have the most beautiful green at the moment – England at its best in many ways. Driving along today, under a canopy of trees, glancing at the green fields, I was in awe of all the hues of one colour! Nature the supreme artist!😀

        Liked by 1 person

  26. chattykerry May 4, 2018 / 3:38 pm

    Wow – the blossoms are astonishing. Our cold weather in the deep south has delayed everything – not even a crape blossom.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Les May 4, 2018 / 7:12 pm

    I have been to Philadelphia a number of times, but never to Chestnut Hill. I don’t live far from you. Up here 60 miles NW of Philly in Reading, PA.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 4, 2018 / 8:23 pm

      Hello Les. Thanks a lot for dropping by.
      The northwest section of Philly has very interesting areas: Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy and Germantown. All are worth a visit.
      See you —
      Neil S.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. theburningheart May 6, 2018 / 11:00 am

    Lovely, it remind me from my now ex-neighborhood of Los Angeles, I got a lot of pictures I took in the past of the amapa flowering trees,and many others, like the ceibas, that grace the street every year, unfortunately I am at lost of how to upload my own pictures to wordpress, blame it on my lack of savviness with computer skills, in how give the pictur an url otherwise I would share with you.

    Thankyou for the great post. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 6, 2018 / 12:20 pm

      Hi. I’d never heard of the trees you mention. I took a look at them online. They’re beautiful.
      Have a great rest of the day. See you —
      Neil S.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Julie Holmes, author May 9, 2018 / 5:39 pm

    Definitely one of the best parts about spring. We don’t have anything fancy like you do, mostly redbuds, crabapples, and apple tress, but when the trees are blooming, it smells wonderful!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 9, 2018 / 6:14 pm

      Flowering trees are a real treat. A great part of nature. Wouldn’t it be something if ALL trees flowered?
      Thanks for dropping by, Julie. See you —

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Dave Ply May 29, 2018 / 1:29 pm

    Unlike the east coast and midwest, spring for us showed up right on time, and summer is showing signs of an early entry with a near record lack of rain for May. Whenever it shows up, it’s always a pretty time of year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 29, 2018 / 6:54 pm

      Hello Dave. You can’t beat spring. Or maybe you can: I think I like autumn best, though part of the reason is my birthday falling in October.
      See you —

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 25, 2018 / 3:55 pm

      Thanks, Benn.
      I go to Chestnut Hill pretty often. I saw a play there a month or two ago at the Stagecrafters Theater: Race, by David Mamet. It was very good.


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