The Making of the Lichgate Oak Image
I had known of Lichgate on High Road in Tallahassee, Florida, and it’s massive, old oak tree for for some time. I have photographed at Laura Jepsen’s quiet paradise numerous times for various magazine articles. (Laura Jepsen was a local college professor whose purchase of the property, Lichgate on High Road, helped to ensure the preservation of the Lichgate Oak tree. Read more about Jepsen below.)
On the particular occasion that I created this image of the Lichgate Oak, I arrived around dawn, which was when the park opened to the public daily at the time. It was in the middle of the summer. Thankfully, our daily afternoon summer thunderstorms had quenched the resurrection ferns’ thirst, and they were displaying their full verdant splendor.
I positioned myself on the side of the tree that faces Jepsen’s fairytale-like cottage - the side she would have seen while looking out her window. The full foliage beyond the mighty oak tree blocked the view of High Road, which sits immediately beyond, as a natural barricade from the modern world.
I composed the tree’s outstretched branches, anchored by the brown trunk, to fill the frame in my camera - one large branch that splits again and again reached out toward the camera, giving the final image a nearly three-dimensional effect. View more Florida landscape photography.
The Lichgate Oak Tree at Lichgate on High Road, a Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)
“But with the grace of a southern belle in a billowing skirt, this moss-draped live oak swept the ground in every direction. It was a tree to inspire poets” wrote Jepsen in her book, Lichgate on High Road.
The Lichgate Oak tree is a beautiful, large southern live oak tree (scientific name Quercus virginiana). It is approximately 175 years old.
As Jespsen wrote, the giant tree has sprawling branches, some of which reach down to the ground. The tree is sprinkled with Spanish moss and covered in resurrection ferns - small ferns that turn brown when they dry up but then immediately return to their vibrant green glory after a rainfall.
The magnificent Lichgate Oak is registered with the Live Oak Society.
Lichgate on High Road, a hidden gem of a park in Tallahassee
The Lichgate Oak resides on private property that’s open to the public - a park called Lichgate on High Road, a hidden gem of a park in Tallahassee, Florida, located at 1401 High Road.
The three-acre Lichgate park contains the ancient, southern live oak tree (Quercus virginiana), an English tudor-style cottage, a meditative labyrinth, and gardens.
The cottage was built by Laura Jepsen, a comparative literature professor at nearby Florida State University, who lived in the Lichgate cottage from 1946 to 1978. Jepsen’s purchase of the property helped to ensure the preservation of the Lichgate Oak.
Upon her death in 1995, the Lichgate property was given to The Nature Conservancy. It is now owned and maintained by the Laura Jepsen Institute.
In 2006, Lichgate on High Road was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
The areas immediately surrounding the property have been developed over time, leaving Lichgate on High Road as alluring park in the middle of Tallahassee’s urban development.
A Beautiful Tallahassee Wedding Venue
Lichgate on High Road is a popular Tallahassee wedding venue, and for good reason. The property makes for a beautiful wedding venue.
Couples marry under the Lichgate Oak tree, which provides both a pretty setting and shade for the guests!
If you were married at Lichgate on High Road then this ancient oak tree probably holds a special meaning for you and your family.
Tree of Life
Many cultures and religions hold belief of the Tree of Life, though the beliefs vary, from it connecting all of creation, to it representing nature’s balance and harmony, to it symbolizing strength and longevity. It may also be called the Sacred Tree or the World Tree.
In the book of Genesis in the Christian Bible and in the Jewish Torah, it says that both the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil were in the middle of the Garden of Eden. It is implied that eating from the Tree of Life would give everlasting life.
Regardless of what belief you may hold, Tallahassee’s Lichgate Oak tree could be seen as a representation of the Tree of Life.