towering ancient trees

Photo by Allison Shaw

Evans has spent his 67 years in Osterville and is dedicated to the park he says is unchanged from when he was a boy. And that’s just fine with him. “It’s probably the only eight and a half acres in all of Osterville that is still open space,’’ he says. “[The park] is just how I remember it.”

Not all the old beauties have survived. In Orleans, a graceful linden dominated the garden of the Captain Linnell House on Skaket Beach Road for 150 years before it was blown down in 2006. After the linden fell, it was replaced almost immediately with a younger linden donated by a resident of West Yarmouth, which did not thrive. Soon that tree was replaced with another European linden from Johnson Tree Farm in Osterville. And the cycle goes on. “We have lost a lot of trees,’’ Evans says. “They are fragile things. You have to save what you can, and try to preserve what you can.”

in yarmouthport, Finn Maguire can predict the reaction he’ll get when he leads people under the 70-foot canopy of the European weeping beech tree behind the Captain Bangs Hallett House. Speechlessness. Awe. Then a sort of reverence for the sprawling 160-year-old tree that rises like a cathedral from inside a sheltered hollow on the historic Strawberry Lane site.

Under a tight thatch of branches, the tree’s massive limbs swoop along the ground and then back up into the air, serving as anchors for the elephantine gray trunk carved with a century of lovers’ names. “It is a very spiritual place,’’ says Maguire, a docent of the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth, which oversees the 40-acre property.