We wept, as we’re sure many of you did, with the loss of each of the three large oak trees that have died in the front of UU grounds lately. We wondered, was it old age, the stress of global warming, or some disease that was causing this loss. Even more important, was there anything we could do to slow the death of our remaining beloved trees.
Recently we had a complementary visit from Mark & Sam, two tree experts from the Forsyth County Forestry Office. When not fighting fires, they visit residents who are experiencing tree problems. They’re especially on the lookout for the spread of a disease called oak wilt.
The good news is: they saw nothing wrong with our oaks, other than a few lightening strike scars and some advancing age. So, like many of us, the oaks are just getting on in years. They recommended that we feed our oaks a bit of nitrogen for good health and be sure to clean our pruning tools with alcohol. Otherwise, they recommended our best course of action is succession planning by planting small trees on the edge of treed areas where they will get the most sun.
Most of our existing oaks are white oaks which are slow growing but long lived trees. We could replant with those or use faster growing red oaks. Another option would be sugar maples for pretty fall color. Any of these would make nice memorial trees. But, they would have to be small trees. The foresters said trees fare better when planted small so they acclimate to their new soil as youngsters.
We hate loosing our big old majestic oaks, but at least we can rest assured that we didn’t miss an opportunity to extend their lives. This summer, please take time to stroll around our beautiful property and appreciate the beauty of nature.
Sue & Rich Freeman, Grounds Coordinators