It’s not just the local municipality that is investing in street trees. Increasing numbers of residents take the time to plant up the ground around tree trunks outside their homes. The tree pits close to the corner of Culford Road and Englefield Road, for example, have the feel of a wild meadow, while others in the area boast prim displays of bedding plants or herbs. Across the area, young street trees bear signs beseeching residents to use their old bath water to keep them watered. “It’s important that people learn to love their trees and take ownership of them,” says Burke.
Many urban trees live only about 20% of their normal life expectancy because of external issues such as pests and disease, but most stress can be linked back to improper care and installation, Kelly Allsup, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator, said.
A recent United States Department of Agriculture paper analyzing tree life expectancy in urban areas found the typical street tree lived between 19 and 28 years. To compare, the ideal life span of a white oak is 600 years, and the average life span of a red maple can be between 75 to 150 years in Midwest wilds.
There will, of course, be no Arb Show in 2020, the event’s 22nd instalment having fallen victim to COVID-19 in mid-March – the cancellation inevitable as the Government clamped down on large gatherings, and the decision to abandon correct.
Still though, there was considerable hand-wringing at the Arboricultural Association, where Simon, the Senior Technical Officer, and his team debated the matter over and again, considering contingencies and outlining options before at last accepting defeat and agreeing to pull the plug.
Once we wrote poems when we lost our trees. Now we just watch them rot. In 1820 John Clare was moved to mark the end of a single tree he had loved: ‘It hoples Withers droops & dies.’ In 2020, so many English trees are dying that it would take a library of Clares to record the casualties.
Ahead of him was the home he shares with his wife Sarah and their 3-year old daughter. Fairly modern in design, the home is nestled in the warm surroundings of old trees to the point where it seems it is cloaked in a canopy of peace and serenity near the White Clay Creek Preserve.