It is one of the oldest inhabitants of the Earth.
It connects the past and the future.
It is a source of life. (That's why, perhaps, a tree used to be planted near every house with a newborn.)
It personifies or offers a dwelling to the spirit.
It inspires with its beauty; it gives us the sense of harmony and unity with nature, society, and the super-natural. (That's why, perhaps, the saying goes that when we cut a tree we also cut our memory, or dissolve the space.)
Trees form part of our precious ancestral heritage. We must preserve them, exalt them and hand them over to our descendants. Our attitude to trees and nature is an important part of our culture.
In Slovenia, a tree-labyrinth is far less known than a hedge-labyrinth – but still more known than a stone-labyrinth. After visiting possible sites and consulting with relevant experts (landscape architects and planners, botanists, gardeners, and representatives of collaborating parties), the decision was reached: it will be a Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis).
Tsuga canadensis belongs to conifers in the family of Pinaceae; the genus is widespread in North America and Eastern Asia.
Canadian hemlock is an evergreen three autochthonous to the eastern regions of North America. It grows everywhere from Alabama and Georgia to the Great Lakes. It was brought to the Old Continent – or to Great Britain, to be precise – as late as 1736. Nowadays it is frequent throughout the Western and Central Europe, primarily as a park tree.
Canadian hemlock, an evergreen tree with short, flattened needles and small cones, is nowadays found primarily in parks and tree plantations. It grows individually or in groups. Young trees are easily trimmed and shaped; therefore they are frequently planted in lines forming hedges. The hemlock tree grows a thick crown offering shelter from wind, snow, and sun. It is resistant to freezing; it thrives on fertile and humid soil, on locations not very exposed to sun.
Normally it grows up to
Canadian hemlock is not unknown in Slovenia. For example:
- It was planted in the Maribor city park at the 100th birth anniversary of Olympic winner Leon Štukelj;
- It can be seen in the Ljubljana University Botanic Gardens, and along the Jesenko's Path on the Rožnik Hill;
- It grows in the Volčji Potok Arboretum.
In Canada, they have recorded adult hemlocks growing as high as twenty-one metres, with the diameter up to one metre, and more than 800 years old.
Hemlock forests are popular habitats of different wild animals and birds, e.g. grouses, and they frequently offer winter shelters to deer.
Indians, native inhabitants of North America, used hemlock twigs to make ceremonial tea and steam baths. Hemlock bark tea was used in treating cold, fever, diarrhoea, stomach problems, even scurvy. The bark was also used as a poultice to stop bleeding.
The hemlock bark contains a lot of tannin, so the early white settlers were using it the leather industry, while the hemlock wood was used for sleepers at railway tracks.
Nowadays, the hemlock wood has little commercial value; it is used for heating, in construction and – since it is unaffected by temperature differences – for private home saunas.
Especially in the USA, its etheric oil is used as a fragrance in air fresheners, domestic detergents, soaps, gels and other chemical and cosmetic products.