The Magic of Tree Groves

photo by Steve Deligan 

Waldeinsamkeit is one of those untranslatable German words that means “the feeling of being alone in the woods.” It is a lovely sentiment, meant to convey the sweet solitude of being alone with your thoughts amidst an atmosphere of natural peace.  But how to use it in a sentence? 'Waldeinsamkeit descended upon her as she trudged on, the only sound being the crinkled leaves beneath her footsteps".... 

not so great a sentence? Well, I tried.

Groves of trees have been planted throughout history to try to simulate or induce a feeling of waldeinsamkeit. Geoffrey Jellicoe writes about groves in his classic reference, "The Oxford Companion to Gardens" saying,

Tree tunnel by Carol Dorion
"The Greeks adopted the mystical nature of a sacred grove, but also accepted it on intellectual grounds. The Platonic Academy was conducted among formally planted olives, not merely because they provided shade so essential in the Mediterranean countries, but also because the planting rhythms stimulated thought and contemplation."  (p.238)

photo by Nicolas Tonelli

Jellicoe continues about this and after a few more sentences, writes,

" The grove retained its mysticism throughout the Middle Ages, and, as the bosco of the Italian renaissance and the bosquet of Le Notre, became an integral part of garden design...Today the garden grove still retains its mystery, no less for the adult than for the child." 

So if you don't have nearby woods to walk in perhaps you might think about planting some trees in a grove-like setting... I write about this idea in my upcoming book, "Heaven is a Garden - Designing Serene Outdoor Spaces for Inspiration and Reflection".  (available for pre-order on Amazon)

Jellicoe says we are sensitive to the growth and death of trees because they are similar to our own life. If that is the case, then we should greet each tree, as we take our walk, as a friend and thank them for sharing in our lifetime. Now is there a German word for that sentiment, I wonder? 


  1. I just found your blog and am enjoying it with lots of posts to catch up on! Tree groves or tunnels are such a beautiful work of art. My last post has a photo at the very end of a tree tunnel in Kauai that I was in awe viewing every time we drove through it. Nice blog and post!

    1. Hi Lee! I know that tree tunnel! On the way to Poipu...magical. and thanks for your compliments....

  2. You just posted about something dear to my heart. Thank you so much~

    1. Hi Susan - you are very welcome. I am glad we connected.

  3. I love trees! Thank you for the beautiful post teaching me something new and reminding me about trees!

    1. Hey Laurin! I love trees so much. In my upcoming book, 'Heaven is a Garden' there is a chapter called 'Calling on the Trees'. I hope you like it.

  4. Beautiful pictures of solitude!

    1. thanks Susan - solitude is one of the most precious states of being.

  5. my father was german but i never heard this word...ill bet he knew it...

    1. I bet he did...or at least felt that feeling....


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