Deb Engmark, head gardener at the historic Brucemore estate in Cedar Rapids, shares the following about an amazing tree on the Brucemore grounds:
It’s time. It’s blooming. Brucemore’s Chinese chestnut is screaming for attention. The first clue that the flowers on this magnificent specimen are present is the unmistakable aroma mingling through the landscape; earthy and spicy. This perfume emanates from the chestnut’s canopy, which is covered in clusters of long chenille like tendrils resembling skinny hairy
fingers or spidery legs. Approximately 50 foot tall and 50 foot wide, this low branching, wide spreading habitat makes it a great shade tree and, purportedly, an ideal climbing tree, though I do ask that you don’t climb our trees when visiting.
The chestnut worth noting is standing among younger chestnut specimens. Due to this particular tree’s location in the area of the first orchard as well as its apparent age, estimated from the trunk diameter, height and spread of the tree, this is likely one of the oldest Chinese chestnuts in Iowa, if not the nation. Chinese chestnuts were introduced to the United States by seed in 1903. The original Douglas orchard, planted circa 1909, was in this location. This was also the location of the Sinclair orchard, the estate’s first family.
With consideration given to these facts and estimates by tree experts over the years, I feel confident about the age assumption and willingly share the information. I encourage all to visit and view this majestic specimen, especially during the time of year when the Chinese chestnut drapes its branches in pungent, blooming finery.