Monday, March 17, 2014

I think that I shall never see a sight as lovely as a tree

Norway Spruce

The first two winters we lived in the mountains were so mild I never put on my heavy coat.

World's largest Fraser Fir
I don’t have to tell you this year has been different. 

You can’t watch the local or national news without seeing the wrath of Mother Nature. I’m sick of snow and ice. And I’m saddened to see how this winter has taken the lives of so many gorgeous trees all across the country.

So in honor of my friend Les Park’s Winter Walk Off, I decided to take you on a short trip (about 10 miles) to a historic property that is home to some of the most magnificent trees in America.

High Hampton Honeymoon Cottage
High Hampton Inn and Country Club in North Carolina is a haven of southern hospitality where afternoon tea is still served, gentlemen wear coats to dinner and televisions are non-existent. I first visited High Hampton when I was in high school. Days spent there with my Dad are some of my most treasured memories.

Largest Bald Cypress (Fraser Fir is to left)

The estate was originally a summer retreat for the Hampton family. To escape the mosquitoes and heat of South Carolina’s low country, they traveled by train, then horse and buggy to “nature’s playground” where they enjoyed fishing in the mountain streams, hunting, riding horses and sipping mint juleps on the cottage front porch. 

English Yew, English Elm to the left

Wade Hampton III purchased the property from the Zachary family and later, along with Modecai Zachary, built the Hampton Hunting Lodge. They also built the Church of the Good Shepard which still exists today, and a school for mountain children.

In 1890, Carolyn Hampton (Wade Hampton’s niece) married Dr. William Halstead of Johns Hopkins, and the couple honeymooned on the mountain property.

Copper Beach trunk
Dr. Halstead (who was also an amateur botanist) thought the land to be the most beautiful place on earth. They purchased the estate from Carolyn’s aunt and renamed it High Hampton.

The couple traveled from Baltimore each summer and enhanced the property by adding exotic trees and shrubs that still thrive on the front lawn.

A Kentucky Coffee Tree behind Halstead Cottage

Today when you visit High Hampton you can see the world’s largest Fraser Fir, a National Champion Bottlebrush Buckeye, the tallest Bald Cypress in America and several North Carolina State Champs including a Kentucky Coffee Tree and a Black Locust. All were planted over 100 years ago.

Even those without leaves are a sight to behold.
Stone bench and gnarled Weeping Willow

I promise to return and take pictures when they are dressed up in their summer greenery, and ablaze with color in the fall.

But my camera will not do them justice.

Solitude Cove


Les said...

Lynn, thank you for participating in my Walk-Off, and thank you for including the Fraser Fir. I wrote an article for my old company's newsletter about the species and its use as a Christmas tree. Along the way I got lost in more detail than was necessary for the article. I think what stood out the most for me is how during the last ice age they covered the Carolinas, only to retreat to the tallest peaks when things warmed. High Hampton looks like a beautiful spot, no matter the season.

Lynn Hunt said...

I enjoy the Walk-Off Les, and was glad I thought of the winter tour of High Hampton. I was fascinated to read about the Fraser Firs during the ice age. When you come this way we'll take you to HH and you can see the tree in person (and have a libation at the inn.)

Sarah Laurence said...

What a gorgeous estate! Thanks for the tour.

Lynn Hunt said...

You are so welcome, Sarah. Thanks for stopping by and please come again soon!

Sunil Patel said...

Hi Lynn, the almost-continual winter storms that swept over the UK have also left countless specimen, ancient and grand trees dead or damaged, the statistics make for grim reading. The tour of High Hampton with its history was interesting and what a density of specimen trees! The weeping willow and cove look particularly remarkable.

Lynn Hunt said...

Sunil, I remember hearing about all the trees lost in the UK during the "hurricane" of the 80's. it is so tragic. I would love to take you to see High Hampton in person one day!

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