“The mighty oak” is an idea familiar to us all; indeed, oaks are the strongest living things, resistant to the forces of nature and exceptionally long-lived. This portfolio tries to get under the skin of certain deciduous oaks in order to examine the essence of these magnificent trees. To do that I chose to study them in winter, without their leafy coverings, in order to highlight their powerful and complex structure. While doing so I also became fascinated with the perfect transition from massive trunk through limbs of decreasing size out to the myriad delicate twigs.
All of those shown here are in California's White Oak group that includes Blue, Valley, and Garry oaks. Blue Oaks are endemic to California, located in the lower slopes of the Coast Ranges and the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. They are superbly adapted to the shallow, rocky soils of these hot, dry foothills, where other oaks would struggle to survive. Valley Oaks are also endemic to California but are found typically on the valley floors where there is abundant undersgound water. Garry Oaks are found as far north as British Columbia. All three of the white oaks do hybridize with the others.