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Love and Lore of the Linden

July is a month of blooming linden, not only in Poland bit all through Central and Eastern Europe. The most beautiful walking avenue (promenade) in Berlin is called Unter (under) Den Linden.

Linden treeSeveral Polish poets, among them the prominent Polish poet of Renaissance Jan Kochanowski wrote the poem devoted to Linden: dear visitor -please sit under my linden tree and relax.... Linden had also special meaning in Polish pre-christian pagan traditions. Gods were living there. Later the pagan tradition was converted into the Christian tradition where linden were especially blessed. Some villages and towns in Poland carry lipa in their name, there is a village called "Swieta Lipka" (Holy Linden).
On the negative side - the wood of Linden was considered of mediocre quality, therefore a term lipny in Polish language means something of low quality.

Below is the article of Lorraine and Ted Kiefer about Linden.

Love and Lore of the Linden

The little leaf Linden tree (Lipa), found throughout Poland, is also suited for American lawns and gardens. Lipa or "lime tree" is named so because of the extremely fragrant yellow clusters of flowers that appear in July. In Poland, this highly revered tree serves many purposes and is at the heart of many Polish legends. Lorraine and I visited Poland both times in July and saw the Linden tree everywhere in full bloom.

The month of July (Lipiec) was named for the Lipa, or Linden tree. The citrus-like flowers are sometimes picked and used in a tea which supposedly cures common cold symptoms and relieves heart problems.

lipyPolish legend also suggests that an old Linden tree should not be cut down. Doing so would cause certain bad luck to the cutter and his family. The tree is also linked to Mary, who has been seen in the dark branches of the tree. Today, in Poland, you can still see roadside shrines under a Linden tree. Since the tree is favorite of the Blessed Mother, prayers offered under it have a good chance of being answered.

Churches often plant the Linden tree around the edge of the property. This not only brings shade and July fragrance, but also attracts honey bees. Linden honey is one of the best in Poland, and the beeswax is used to make the candles used in the church.

The Linden, or Tilia cordata, is a great tree for our growing area. Growing to 60 or 70 feet tall, the tree has a pyramidal to oval shape, very dark foliage and a strong winter silhouette. Once established, the Linden will grow almost a foot a year. The hearted-shaped leaves are sometimes eaten by Japanese beetles, but the tree grows on, providing a beautiful background form for your lawn or garden.

Because of its dependability and resistance, the Linden tree is an excellent street tree and is often used in malls and other public places. The tree prefers well-drained, rich soil into which organic matter has been added. Fertilizing in the early spring sustains healthy growth and helps develop resistance to insects and diseases.

After returning to Poland, the sight of a beautiful Linden tree evokes all the beauty and customs of "nasze Ojczyna." This summer, Lorraine and I are planting a Linden in honor of our 29th wedding anniversary to remind us of the wonderful experiences we have had in Poland.

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