January 29, 2021
Snow etching the arms of a big live oak accented its beauty


By Mary Reid Barrow


The branches of the live oak tree on 74th Street were etched in snow the other day and caught my eye as I walked down the windy Feeder Road

The snow accented  the beauty of the tree’s angular bones that grow in every direction imaginable and  I couldn’t  resist taking a photo.

After I put the snowy day photo up on my Facebook page,  it began to get a lot of likes from locals who love live oaks. It reminded me of how lucky we are to have these special trees in our area  spring, summer, fall and winter!

I also thought how lucky I am to still have this particular  tree to look at on my walks.

It is one of the oaks that was protected with chain link fencing by VB Homes when it  was building houses on the street.  You can still see the final phase of the  construction going on to the right.  Yet, despite the porta potty in the background, the beauty of the tree with its snowy design holds its own.

So, I just had to share the photo again here in Nature Notes.

Hardy live oaks are at their northernmost range in southern Virginia, yet I know they stand up to the cold better that we do.  This week they stood  strong against  gale-force , snow driven winds and they bear up with steely strength in far worse hurricane winds too.  You could  say live oaks are champions among trees for NOT going down in a storm around here.

In winter, as their name implies live oaks keep their tough leathery leaves which  provide a green, almost summery canopy for walking under when most other shade trees are bare. At the North End, residents walk along the  Feeder Road on what can feel like a country lane because the  green-leafed  live oaks are so closely spaced,  they provide an archway.

For those of you who haven’t been introduced to these live oaks, it might be worth a drive over here to take a walk and get a sense of the beauty of this iconic tree, the official Virginia Beach tree..  Check out some equally spectacular trees on some of the side streets too.

Or go visit the area west of the first parking lot just after the Shore Drive entrance to First Landing State Park.  Walk under a canopy of live oaks  there that will give you a sense of what the area could have looked like long ago.

Unbothered by humans, live oaks grow for hundreds of years–ancient, gnarly and beautiful.

But even one live oak etched in snow can make your day.

Do you have a favorite tree or plant with a story to tell?  What relationships have you observed  between plants and critters?  Who eats whom?  Who has babies where?   Send an email to


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