Art is everywhere in nature and nature is everywhere is art. Floating leaves, technicolor flowers, dreamy streams, and…. concrete sheep grazing peacefully under a towering tree? A true mix of art and nature! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and local photographer Gary Simpson has thankfully trained his eye on Chatham County. Grand Trees of Chatham wants to share that beauty and Gary’s art with you via their brand new Naturally Chatham calendar.
Grand Trees of Chatham, a nonprofit affiliated with Chatham County, increases public understanding and appreciation of Chatham County’s valuable and irreplaceable trees through education and the trees award program. Anyone can join the group and they meet the third Wednesday of the month in the Pittsboro Agricultural Building.
The Grand Trees of Chatham program seeks to identify, record, and document the county’s most notable trees. Often, these are trees that qualify as “Champions” – the largest of their species in the county, state, or nation. However, these can also be trees historically significant, part of a special group, or outstanding in some other characteristic like shape or color. In May, GOTC volunteers inspected trees at TLC’s White Pines to see if any qualified for “Champion” status. They can accept nominations from any county citizen with the approval of the tree’s owner.
The group’s other main goal is education and this aspect of their work initially sparked the idea for a calendar. A small committee, including Gary, came together to figure out how to put together a calendar. The group looked through hundreds and hundreds of photos to pick just 13 for the year-long calendar. They then worked with Jones Printing in Sanford to design and print the calendar.
Each month of the 2016 calendar features a different photo, a description by Gary, and a thoughtful quote. The photos show the full range of natural beauty found in the county. A view at the confluence of the Deep and Rocky Rivers from TLC’s White Pines Nature Preserve represents the county’s aquatic beauty while a photo of a Southern Magnolia in the graveyard of the Methodist Church downtown nods to the group’s tree-centric mission.
My favorite photo was of a beautiful heirloom apple tree planted by Lee Calhoun. Lee literally wrote the book on southern apple varieties and once grew over 400 of those in his Chatham County orchard. Lee, like GOTC and TLC, is trying to protect and build appreciation for the diversity of life found right here in North Carolina, sometimes in our own backyards.
This inaugural calendar is available now for a small donation of $20. Proceeds will support GTOC’s many educational programs. Request your calendar by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also meet Gary Simpson, the photographer, and purchase a calendar during TLC’s Membership Day on Saturday, September 12. They only have a small supply of calendars, so act fast to get your copy!
Many thanks to Grand Trees of Chatham for including TLC’s White Pines in the calendar and for using art to bring more attention to our region’s natural beauty!