Recently I visited one of Rhode Island’s best kept secrets with friends–Blithewold Gardens and Mansion in Bristol, RI. You can tour the 45-room mansion (we didn’t) and wander about the 33 acres of grounds (we did). We were especially interested in some of the trees. The gardens have two Giant Sequoia trees. These massive giants (Sequoiadendron giganteum) are members of the redwood family, along with Coastal Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens).
The largest tree on Earth (by volume) is a Giant Sequoia, General Sherman, in Sequoia National Park in California. It is estimated to be about 2,000 years old, clearly much older than the two specimens at Blithewold. Although General Sherman is the largest, it is not the oldest. Some of the specimens at Sequoia National Park are over 3,200 years old. Sequoias used to be prevalent throughout North America and Europe, until the last ice age reduced their range to a small region in central California, mainly in Sequoia National Park and parts of Yosemite National Park.
Although the largest, neither General Sherman nor any other Giant Sequoia is the tallest tree. That honor belongs to Hyperion, a Coastal Redwood that stands over 379 feet in height. The redwoods are also found in California, although they have a much larger range. They are primarily found in Redwood National and State Parks. Blithewold has some examples of Coastal Redwoods as well.
The Sequoias and Redwoods are not the only surprisingly large trees at Blithewold. They also boast an enormous American Beech (Fagus grandifolia). What is surprising about this tree is that it seems to have avoided the tendency of the trunks of mature Beeches to rot.
We wandered around some other areas, including the bamboo grove. Then we passed across the lawn in front of the mansion in search of some cooling breezes at the shore. Enjoy this refreshing video pause as you imagine those breezes cooling you on a hot summer day.