They say (to paraphrase slightly) that "One's home is
castle.", and ours is just that: Our beloved realm.
We refer to it
(perhaps somewhat grandly) as Blaine Manor. In
actuality, it is an
old family joke which was started by my now deceased
law, Sam, and was originally a reference to the home
grew up in, but is now perpetuated by us and is a reference
We live in Orange, Essex County, (Northern) New Jersey,
Orange is a city with a population of approximately 30,000.
rather urban, being adjacent to Newark (the county seat
of Newark International Airport). Mid-town Manhattan
referred to as "The City") is easily visible, and only
a short distance
away: a 12 minute train ride during "rush hour",
or a 20 minute
drive in (through the Lincoln or Holland Tunnels) when
it is NOT
The Oranges (East Orange, Orange, West Orange, and South
Orange) are still, even in the 21st century, an obviously
heavily forested area. Trees of all kinds (many
are very, very old
and huge) still stand tall over the residences and businesses
area. Many of these are trees which blossom every
Summer, and there is quite a variety. The time
from early Spring
through late Spring is truly beautiful here. There
are plenty of
flowering pear trees, apple trees, crabapple trees, quince
flowering plum trees, dogwoods, mulberry trees, weeping
trees, just to name a few, all over the Oranges.
There is also a
very special species of magnolia, known as the "Fig Magnolia",
which is seen everywhere.
There is a funny historic anecdote regarding these magnolias,
A peddler went through this area in the second quarter
of the 19th
century selling what he claimed were a special species
of the fig
tree which was "guaranteed" to be hardy for this climate
produce the fruit. (Of course, there is no fig
hardy enough for our
climate!) Anyway, "our" Victorian ancestors bought
all of his baby
"fig" trees -- practically every one had
planted at least one or two
of these trees in their yards. Imagine what a surprise
had when these trees turned out to be large, beautiful,
magnolias, instead !! Of course, the peddler was
long gone, and
nowhere to be found, after his duplicity was discovered
As it turns out, these magnolias come in two distinct
neither of them has ever been found anywhere else in
except this area. (Love to know where the wily
One variety is a tree that grows with only one main trunk
branches out wide and bushy (much like an apple tree,
larger) and approximate average height is 30 feet to
The other variety is a tree that grows with several trunks
single main trunk -- (more like a bush, only it is a
large tree) and
tends to appear to be a small clump of trees squished
together until you inspect it closer and realize that
it is actually one
tree. This kind is slightly smaller than the other
to approximately 25 feet to 35 feet in height, although
these are taller.
Both varieties have large traditionally shaped magnolia
that look and smell like their southern cousins.
The flowers vary
slightly in their pale pink color from tree to tree,
but all of them are
easily recognizable as magnolias. In fact, on the
when we've had house guests from North Carolina, South
Tennessee, and Georgia, all have expressed astonishment
magnolias growing this far North.
We have one of these magnolias, which pretty much dominates
front yard (the kind with a single main trunk).
Just a few years ago,
I planted a new hardy species of dwarf magnolia (a
"baby" tree of
only 5 years old) in our back yard, which has small white
and is supposed to grow only to about 8 feet to 10 feet
that is not at all like these wonderful old magnolias.
Branchbrook Park in Newark is well known for it's flowering
trees (cherry blossoms). It has the largest number
blossoms in the country. Even more than are found
in Washington DC!
In the springtime, people come from all over the world
in record numbers
to see these beautiful blossoms!
Every spring, Main Street in West Orange is lined with
pear trees. All up and down Main Street, both sides
of the street
are lined with those beautiful fluffy white blossoms...
It is incredibly
Check out the
Article from the Star-Ledger