Category Archives: Planting

Remembering Oreon Mann

The next time you’re walking or driving along Hurt Street near the MARTA station, take note of these new trees planted on the east side of the street:

There is a nice story here.

Our new trees are southern magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora), but not just any southern magnolias.

These are scions of the locally famous Spiller Field magnolias.

Spiller Field, also known as Ponce de Leon Park, was the baseball venue once located at 650 Ponce de Leon Avenue, now the site of a shopping center across the street from Ponce City Market.

The field was constructed in 1907 where an amusement park had been operating for several years. (Before the amusement park, a lovely grove of beech trees had shaded the natural springs in that area.)

Ponce de Leon Park in 1907

“Poncey” was home to the minor league Atlanta Crackers until 1965 and also hosted the Black Crackers from 1919 to 1952. In the outfield of the original field were two southern magnolias. A ball hit into the branches of these trees — which didn’t happen often, as they were roughly 450 feet from home plate — was treated as still in play.

Photo of Ponce de Leon Park that must have been taken near the center-field magnolias
Aerial photo of Spiller Field in 1959, with the trees clearly visible beyond the outfield

Looking back, we can probably agree that the Spiller Field magnolias had their most historically significant moment when Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers came to town in 1949.

Jackie Robinson (circled) on deck at Spiller Field on April 10, 1949

The story is wonderfully told by historian Kenneth R. Fenster in “Earl Mann Beats the Klan: Jackie Robinson and the First Integrated Games in Atlanta.” It begins as follows:

At 1:30 p.m. on April 8, 1949, Earl Mann, the president of the Atlanta Crackers of the Class AA Southern Association, had his regular monthly meeting with Hughes Spalding, the chairman of the Crackers’ board of directors. Spalding did not record in his desk diary what he and Mann discussed, but surely a major topic of their conversation was the game scheduled for that evening at venerable Ponce de Leon Park. The game pitted the all-white Crackers against the integrated Brooklyn Dodgers, with their two black players, Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella. The Dodgers-Crackers contest would be the first mixed-race baseball game in Atlanta and the first in a major city of the Deep South.

In the end, the three-game series was played without major incident, but there had been rumors that the KKK would be waiting out by the magnolia trees just beyond center field. The final game, played on a Sunday afternoon, drew 25,221 fans, including 13,885 Black spectators, to a park that seated only 14,500.

Earl Mann, of course, was the father of our own Oreon Mann, who with his mother Myra scattered his father’s ashes at the base of one of the trees in 1990.

Earl Mann, father of Inman Park’s Oreon Mann

Through the good work of Trees Atlanta and Bold Springs Nursery, trees propagated from the Spiller Field magnolias have come to Oreon Mann’s beloved Inman Park. Genetically identical to the original trees, they celebrate a legacy that is important to the city and to our neighborhood.

Total Cost: $0.00

The Front Yard Tree Program + three Inman Park volunteers = one very happy homeowner.

Boon Boonyapat is the owner of a new maple tree, courtesy of a program funded by the City of Atlanta and administered by Trees Atlanta.

Boon selected a maple from a list of species posted on Trees Atlanta’s website:

Trees Atlanta delivered the tree, and then Inman Park volunteers Steve Hays (right), Jim Abbot (left), and Jaime Kirsche (behind the camera) planted it, all free of charge to Boon.

Want a free tree for your front yard? It’s easy. You can comment on this post, or use the contact page on this website, or if you prefer, use the request form at Trees Atlanta.

What a Difference Two Decades Makes

Waverly Way circa 2000, looking west from the edge of Freedom Park
Waverly Way in 2021, from the same vantage point

I regret that I have to add this: the large water oak in the center of the second photograph is slated for removal.

The answer to this lamentable state of affairs? Plant shade trees in our front yards and/or our back yards.


I mentioned in an earlier post that the American elm can be a fast grower under the right conditions.

In 2005, Tree Watch and Trees Atlanta planted a line of American elms along Atlantis Avenue, on a low embankment between the parking lot behind Fritti and the street.

Here they are in 2010:

And a year and a half later in Fall 2011:

Three years later in 2014:

In September 2018 (in a photograph taken from the southbound lane of Elizabeth Street):

And here they are today:

Tale of An Oak Tree

When Jeanne and I moved into our Waverly Way home, back in the year 2000, there stood a huge water oak (Quercus nigra) between our house and our neighbor to the east.

Several years later, that oak died, and so our neighbor had to take it down. But it left some acorns behind!

In 2010, you can just see a sapling poking its head out of the bushes, in front of the flowering dogwood:

The next year, it’s making a bit of progress, though it’s hard to pick it out among all the other volunteers.

By 2014, with its root system just the way it wants it, the oak has leapt up.

Here is the tree now, on May 22, 2021. Roughly a decade of growth. It’s more than 60 feet tall. Look to the left. That’s a white oak (Quercus alba) that I myself planted probably five years before that water oak even thought about germinating.

Sixty feet tall in 10-12 years!

Bioswales on Highland Avenue!

On Saturday, March 23, 2019, Trees Atlanta and Chattahoochee Riverkeeper installed the first of two bioswales on Highland Avenue. They had the help of several volunteers from Inman Park, including Jamie Allen, Chuck Young, and Jim Abbot.

Bioswales are landscape elements intended to capture, clean, and infiltrate stormwater on site. Trees Atlanta, in the person of Kelly Ridenhour, and Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, represented by Eric Fyfe, received a grant to pilot a simple and inexpensive approach to retrofitting existing street features, such as sidewalk rights-of-way and bump-outs, into bioswales.

Each new vegetated bioswale — at Highland’s intersection with Washita — will be home to one big-flowered silverbell tree (Halesia diptera var. magniflora), together with ground cover including Virginia sweetspire, eastern bluestar, river oats, coneflowers, and more.