All posts by Jim Abbot

Wonderful Work in the Woods

On the morning of Friday, June 10, a capable crew of Inman Park neighbors, together with some Trees Atlanta recruits, rallied in support of Springvale Park.

The goal was to remove invasive Japanese chaff flower and to thin out some of the saplings that are threatening to turn Springvale Park into a jungle.

Thanks go to Sandi and Kevin Curry, Karen Heim, Alan Hing, Nancy and Bob Morrison, Sam Prausnitz-Weinbaum, Cindy Weinbaum, Peipei Xiang, and Jim Abbot, as well as Trees Atlanta staffer Louie Lewis and his volunteers Myrtle Lewin, Jasen Johns, Grace, Nicole, and Christina.

Beech Update

A while back, I posted some photos of how my American beech (Fagus grandifolia) is getting along with recovery from the wound I inflicted upon it.

I had decided that there was risk of included bark developing between an already large branch and the trunk of my beech tree, so with considerable ambivalence, I removed the branch. That left a large wound on the tree, which I understood would result in some rot within the trunk, but then again, trees can be wonderfully adept at compartmentalizing decay.

Here’s an illustration of the barrier zone that a tree can construct, via internal alterations in the chemistry of its cells, to wall off infection from otherwise healthy wood inside the tree:

Source: In Defense of Plants

What I have been watching on the exterior of my beech is the slow growth of what’s initially called callus tissue and later, as the callus becomes tougher and stronger, woundwood. The hope is that this continuing growth of woundwood will ultimately seal off the interior of the tree from further exposure to organisms that cause decay.

As you can see, the tree is making good progress. I’d tell you that I’m really proud of it, but then I don’t want to encourage any vanity in my beech. It’s already the queen of the backyard, and the red maples, tulip poplars, and pecans all know it.

Let’s Take Care of Some Trees!

On TWO upcoming weekdays, Inman Park Tree Watch and Trees Atlanta will team up to show tender loving care to some trees, young and old, which are currently beset by invasive vines, ground covers, and shrubs.

It’s called forest restoration. We need your help to restore our Inman Park forest.

On Wednesday, May 25, from 9:00 to noon, we will be working along the serpentine path through the section of Freedom Park lying between Euclid and Austin. The closest intersection to the site is Austin Avenue and Sinclair Avenue. The signup for the May 25 project is here: https://sforce.co/3Nr6Rij

On Friday, June 10, from 9:00 to noon, join us in the natural area of Springvale Park, south of Euclid, to remove invasive plants. The closest intersection is Waverly Way and Euclid Avenue. The signup for the June 10 project is here: https://bit.ly/springvaleJune10

These projects are suitable for younger children when accompanied by an adult. Bring a pair of work gloves if you have them, otherwise we’ll furnish them to you. Also a water bottle. The best clothing is long pants and closed-toe shoes or boots.

We hope to see you there! There’s a job for everyone, and your help is needed even if you cannot stay the entire time. Use the contact form on this site if you have questions.

Crape Myrtle

We’re all familiar with the tree commonly known as crape or crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica). It’s not native to Georgia, but given how many crape myrtles we see in Atlanta yards, sidewalk strips, and parking lots, you might have assumed it is. It came to us from China and Korea, first to Charleston in 1790 and then everywhere else.

I’m here today with a reminder: if you are responsible for one or more of these trees, there is no law that says you must “top” a crape myrtle. The reason some people cut back these trees is because they believe it’s a technique to get more blooms and larger blooms in the summer. The reason that others top these trees is because, well, everybody else is doing it.

You can google the phrase “crape murder” to read all the reasons why it’s not a good practice to decapitate trees, putting aside aesthetics.

A few years ago, the Natalie asked Tree Watch to plant some crape myrtles out in front of their lovely building on Waverly Way. Look how elegant they already are.

Earlier, I wrote that “there is no law that says you must ‘top’ a crape myrtle.” In fact, for what it’s worth, the City of Atlanta Tree Protection Ordinance deems “topping” an illegal destruction of a tree, for which a fine may be imposed:

Topping, tipping, or any similar improper pruning practices will automatically be deemed as destruction of a tree.

So please pause a minute and consider whether you really want to chop your crape myrtle in two, especially the ones that are in the public right-of-way between the sidewalk and the street. Most varieties of crape myrtle (Tuscarora, Muskogee, Natchez, Sarah’s Favorite, etc.) do want to be trees, not shrubs. If you want a shrub, plant a shrub!

Looking Forward to Festival 2

I visited a friend over on Edgewood Avenue today — he’d asked to borrow a bucket or two of mulch, and I was happy to oblige. When I got there, I saw immediately that I’m obviously not the only one around here who is eagerly looking forward to the Inman Park Festival & Tour of Homes.

Right? Look, Mr. Grancy Graybeard is already wearing his party outfit.

Fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus)

Looking Forward to Festival 1

My history with the Inman Park Festival & Tour of Homes begins in 1986.

Image credit: Richard Westrick

In 1986, Jeanne and I were living in a third-floor apartment at 461 North Highland Avenue. Her mother came down from Philadelphia to pay us a visit, and we took her to the festival. She loved it, and she insisted on buying us that year’s poster. It’s still my favorite.

In 2004 (I think it was), Jeanne and I had been living on Waverly Way for four years.

Image credit: Richard Westrick

We agreed to have our new two-story Craftsman included in that year’s Tour of Homes. This time, it was MY mother who visited. She came to help us throughout the weekend. I have wonderful memories of our younger son and his grandmother sitting on the front porch, welcoming visitors and marking those tour tickets.

In 2013, the neighborhood put 946 Waverly Way on tour again.

Image credit: Richard Westrick

Oh what fun that was. We met so many wonderful people, and who wouldn’t like to be complimented on their home?

Did you know that it’s neighborhood volunteers who organize and run the Inman Park Festival & Tour of Homes? That mulching and pruning trees in preparation for Festival is just one of hundreds of tasks that have to be completed to stage a safe and successful event? That planning for the next year’s festival will begin almost as soon as this year’s festival is in the books?

It really does feel like a privilege to live in Inman Park, and as I’ve written before on this site, that’s down to the people — not the trees, not the houses, not the amenities, not the Beltline, not the buzz, but the people.

Oh, before I wrap this up, I have to share this quote from the March 24, 2004 edition of the New York Times. “Eccentric”? What a hoot!

Two weekends later … is another popular festival in one of the city’s most attractive in-town neighborhoods, the Inman Park Spring Festival and Tour of Homes two miles east of downtown. This event, less traditional and more exuberant than the Dogwood Festival, includes a parade of silly floats and clowns, a tour of some of the city’s most eccentric homes, and live entertainment and dance.

*Thanks go to former Tree Watch co-chair Richard Westrick for creating a photo gallery of posters from past festivals. You can view Richard’s album here.

**Volunteer for Festival here.