At some point roughly 20 years ago, a shipment from Asia arrived in the United States with a passel of six-legged stowaways lurking in its wooden pallets. Since it was first detected near Detroit in 2002, the emerald ash borer has gnawed its way through ash trees across North America, leaving a swath of destruction across 31 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces — and counting.
The EAB was first spotted in North Carolina in 2013, when it was confirmed in Granville, Person, Vance and Warren counties, a contiguous area in the central part of the state bordering Virginia. Now it’s present in 33 of the state’s 100 counties and continues to spread. WNC counties with confirmed ash borer infestations are Haywood, Swain, Macon, Graham, Buncombe, Madison, Mitchell and Yancey counties — this month, the N.C. Forest Service found EAB on several trees in the Alarka area of Swain County after the beetle was initially found in Bryson City last summer.
Like an old man’s face, mature hardwood tree trunks are covered with blemishes that signal age: cankers, seams, burls, butt scars, sterile conks, and protrusions in the form of bracket fungi. Winter is the time to take a closer look at this somber side of the natural world.
As manager of Waynesville’s urban forest, it’s safe to say that Jonathan Yates likes trees. So when Diane Kornse of the Mountain View Garden Club approached him last fall to ask if the town had any project in the wings that the club could help tackle, Yates was ready with an answer.
“I said, ‘Actually, I do have an idea I’ve had for years, but it would really require something like a garden club to make it happen,’” Yates recounted.
As fall colors fade from the landscape, the bright yellows and oranges become a vivid memory marking the peak of the autumn season. As winter approaches, now is the time for the rich reds, burnt yellows and russet colors donned by the last of the deciduous trees to drop their foliage: the oaks. Always the last to leave the party in the fall and the most hesitant to sprout their leaves in the spring, the dominance of oaks in our forest cannot be denied.
It’s got more names than the Bible. The “round-over,” the “lollipop,” and the “bob” to name a few. No matter how you call it, Haywood County’s favorite way of trimming trees is despised by tree experts, yet it’s probably here to stay.
The Haywood County historic courthouse in Waynesville will be completely re-landscaped by the end of this week, just in time for the official launch of the summer tourist season marked by Memorial Day weekend.
The county cut down all the large sugar maple trees from the courthouse lawn over the winter, and it has been barren ever since. The new landscape design calls for smaller trees and fewer of them.
The new trees will be planted in the nick of time for the first downtown street festival of the year this Saturday, although the lawn itself will take longer to restore.
Last week, county maintenance employees planted six Kousa Dogwood trees along the Depot Street side of the courthouse and a sugar maple on the right side of the historic courthouse, between it and the new justice center.
The remaining plantings — two Yoshino Cherries, a Serbian spruce and a few shrubs —should be delivered by Wednesday (May 22 and promptly put in the ground.
“We will be ready to go,” said Dale Burris, county facilities and maintenance director. “It’s a simple fact of digging a hole and putting it in correctly.”
— By Caitlin Bowling
Naturalist Donald Culross Peattie (1898-1964) was born in Chicago. In his autobiography The Road of a Naturalist (1941), Peattie recalled his first extended visit to the North Carolina mountains in 1906 as a time when he “saw the world of people fall away, grow small, grow hazy blue, forgotten. In seven months upon that isolated summit of the Appalachians, I began to discover a world older and greater. It is the world now of my established habitation, my working days and holidays, and it lies open to all men, in valleys as on mountains, by any road you choose to enter.”
Talk of cutting the historic courthouse maples in Waynesville has come and gone during the years.
Reasons varied. It was hard to get grass to grow underneath. The trees masked the grandness of the historic courthouse. Heavy equipment parked under the trees during courthouse renovations damaged the root systems.
Main Street merchants are used to answering tourists’ questions: how do you get to the parkway, what’s the best place for dinner, and where are the public restrooms? But lately, Waynesville’s downtown store keepers have also become purveyors of news.