So, yesterday I was walking northeast on the section of the Freedom Park Trail between North Highland Avenue and the Jimmy Carter Library & Museum/The Carter Center.
Years ago, we planted trees nearby, along what is now called John Lewis Freedom Parkway.
These are winged elms. “Winged” refers to the corky “wings” or ridges that can be found growing on opposite sides of the tree’s twigs and branches, particularly its younger branches:
(For this tree, by the way, the scientific name and the common name are a perfect match: Ulmus alata is literally “winged elm.” Contrast our water oak, Quercus nigra, which we should be calling “black oak,” I suppose. Except what we commonly call black oak has the botanical name Quercus velutina, literally “velvety oak,” referring to the fine hairs found on its buds and young leaves. What a nomenclatural mess!)
I saw that one of the winged elms along the parkway has split in two:
When my family and I moved into Inman Park in 2000, just over two decades ago, the neighborhood was full of mature trees, primarily water oaks (Quercus nigra), which shaded our streets and yards.
Here are some photos taken from Google Maps of Waverly Way from 2007 and January 2022, looking east and west of our home at Waverly Way’s intersection with Hurt Street. Note the red arrow.
Recently the city had to take down the last of the roughly 80-year-old water oaks along Waverly Way. The crown of the tree was healthy, but its buttress roots could no longer be counted on to keep the tree standing through a high wind or ice storm.
How quickly things change!
And change again! Here are some blackgums (Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’) which the Pattersons agreed to have planted in tree wells along their Hurt Street sidewalk. They will reach 40-60 feet eventually. And the two white oaks (Quercus alba) that they planted in their front yard years ago (not pictured here) could grow as high at 80-100 feet.
Our next Inman Park tree planting will be Saturday, January 21. Let us know if your yard or sidewalk strip needs a tree!
If you happen to be a tree, one of the bigger challenges you have is this: I need energy to grow and reproduce! So I’m gonna reach for sunlight, water, and nutrients. But how far and fast can I reach before something like this happens?
The photograph above shows an American elm (Ulmus americana ‘Princeton’) planted years ago by Tree Watch and Trees Atlanta in Freedom Park.
American elm is really great at reaching. It can grow fast. When it’s at home — ‘home’ being rich, alluvial soil in a forested floodplain along a river or stream — a tall American elm will have channeled so much of its energy into growing upward, in order to reach that lovely sunlight at the top of the forest, that it may have no branches at all until the 50- or 60-foot mark.
Of course, an American elm growing in an open, grassy section of Freedom Park has no difficulty at all accessing sunlight. It’s like a kid left alone in a candy shop. (Think of that poor elm tree in Freedom Park as a kid with a terrible tummy ache.)
Lake Claire’s tree canopy is currently twice as dense as Inman Park’s, and taking into consideration how much of Inman Park is “non-vegetative land cover,” Tree Watch is limited to about half the total area of the neighborhood when it is looking for places to plant trees.
A recent study in Portland found that a single shade tree increases a homeowner’s property value by an average $7,130, while street trees add $8,870, on average, to a house’s sale price.
A two-stroke, gas-powered leaf blower releases into the air about 300 times the hydrocarbons of a heavy-duty pickup.
In the front yard of a house on Elizabeth Street is a 70-foot tall, multi-trunk redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) — a Pacific coast redwood, that is, roughly 2,700 miles distant from the California forests where it has its true home, and which is said to be comprised of the suckers that sprouted from the stump of a tree planted by Joel Hurt himself!!!
There is absolutely no connection between knowing more about the natural world and caring more about the natural world.
If you chose #5, congratulations!
Tree Watch needs your help in identifying topics, issues, speakers, experts, activities, venues, media outlets, and so forth, to educate Inman Park residents about the critically important work we must do to ensure that Atlanta remains a city with an environment that is supportive of human health and prosperity. Contact us!