The Beauty of the Heart of California

San Joaquin Valley farm scene, California (

Yesterday you saw the wonderful portrait of Marie Madeleine Gouaillardeu painted by Julie Manet and learnt a little about the story of Marie Madeleine as told by her daughter Chantal Sagouspe who is one of our subscribers.

Marie Madeleine married Frank Sagouspe and went to live in Madera, California - which is often called the Heart of California as it is close to the centre of the state and located in the Central Valley which is California's most productive agricultural region and one of the most productive in the world, providing more than half of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts grown in the United States.1

Part of the Central Valley, California, as seen from the air (Wikipedia)

Chantal recounts:

My father was in partnership with his two brothers and had a dairy, and he also farmed cotton, corn, wheat, beets, and alfalfa until they sold the dairy in the 70s (after the tragic death of his younger brother in an accident on the dairy). He then did as so many farmers in Central California also did, and planted grapes which were sold to wineries or dried on the farm to sell as raisins.

The beauty of vineyards around the world is well documented and those in the Central Valley are no exception.

And the only scene that might surpass a vineyard is an orchard of almond trees.

And then we have the southern part of the Central Valley where the famous and stunningly beautiful San Joaquin Valley is located.

San Joaquin valley early morning just outside Sequoia National Park (

Within the San Joaquin Valley is the Nelder Grove. Situated within the Sierra National Forest, Nelder Grove is a Giant Sequoia grove that spans 1,540 acres. Within it, you will be able to see over 100 mature Giant Sequoia trees, as well as several other plants and rocks. An interesting feature is the stumps you may come across - remnants of the grove’s ancient sequoia trees which were logged before being protected by the US Forest Service. 1

The Sierra National Forest flanks the southern and western edges of Yosemite National Park and Mariposa County, featuring five designated wilderness areas within its expansive boundary. 1

The giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) is the world's most massive tree, and arguably amongst the largest living organisms on Earth. It is neither the tallest extant species of tree (that distinction belongs to the coast redwood), nor is it the widest (that distinction belongs to the baobab tree or Montezuma cypresses), nor is it the longest-lived (that distinction belongs to the Great Basin bristlecone pine).

However, with a height of 87 meters (286 ft) or more, a circumference of 34 meters (113 ft) or more, an estimated bole volume of up to 1,490 cubic meters (52,500 cu ft), and an estimated life span of 1800–2700 years, the giant sequoia is among the tallest, widest and longest-lived of all organisms on Earth. 1

Photo by Joshua Earle / Unsplash

Below is a video of a 1,500 year old Sequoia Redwood in California which is so large it took a special project to work out how to photograph it!

Photographer Nick Nichols spent a year planning the nearly impossible: a top-to-bottom photograph of a 300-foot-tall redwood tree, now the centerpiece of the October 2012 issue of National Geographic Magazine.