Acadiana Gardening Q & A - Book Info
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CONTINUING A SERIES ON SOME LANDMARK TREES OF ACADIANA
Beautiful old crabapple tree at First Baptist Church was a lesson to generations of children
This QUESTION was asked March 26, 1994: For many years I have looked forward to and enjoyed the blooms of the old crabapple tree in the Lee Street parking lot of First Baptist Church. Ive heard that it is to be cut down. Is this true and is there any way to save it?
Answer: That crabapple tree is precious to me too, and I hate to hear that news. The staff and members at First Baptist Church are equally heartbroken. Luther Burney, minister of music, and Betty Best, pre-school director, told me that the tree has been under the care of arborists for a number of years in an effort to save it.
Four years ago the experts advised cutting the tree down, but there was so much objection from church members that it was postponed. Following the last hurricane, it became a safety hazard, leaving little choice.
Even though it is old and gnarled, the crabapple blooms beautifully every spring right in front of the windows of the churchs pre-school building, said Betty. We feel that little people need to understand that Gods world is beautiful, and this breathtaking tree has been used to illustrate that point to several generations of children.
The tree is estimated to be well over 70-years-old, unusual for Louisiana crabapples. The property on which it is located was the site of the J.C. Buchanan home, and the last family member to live there was Miss Ann Buchanan, a botanist and professor at SLI, who lived to be over 100 years old.
The property was known for its beautiful trees and shrubs, including a very large azalea nicknamed the Buchanan Pink, which provided cuttings for commercial as well as private growers.
Attempts have been made to identify and propagate the First Baptist crabapple because of its vigor and longevity in South Louisiana, but to my knowledge, none has been successful.
Chinese fringe tree stops traffic at Southside corner
This QUESTION was asked April 20, 1996: There is a tree at the intersection of Alice and Robley Drives that is covered with a cloud of beautiful white flowers.
Answer: Thats a Chinese fringe tree (Chionanthus refusus), a relative of our native Grancy Greybeard (Chionanthus virginicus). Chinese fringe is not to be confused with a recent introduction, Chinese fringe flower, Plum Delight (Loropetalum chinense). All three are in bloom at this time.
The Chinese fringe tree is in the yard of Dr. Bill and Nancy Hagerman who planted it 10 to 12 years ago near a native fringe tree. They are quick to point out that they admire the native fringe tree, but cant deny that the Chinese cultivar has grown faster, flowered earlier and more heavily, and kept its leaves better than the native tree.
In addition, it has more distinctively marked bark and an interesting horizontal branching pattern which the Hagermans prefer.
As far as the owners know, their tree is the only mature Chinese fringe in the area. Serious efforts by area horticulturists to propagate with cuttings from their tree have met with limited success. A friend of the Hagermans' and fellow gardening enthusiast, Gordon Rabalais, was able to grow some young plants by soaking seeds in sulfuric acid.
Because of the difficulty in propagating by cuttings, the Chinese fringe tree is expensive in the rare occasions when it is available in the nursery trade. The Hagermans purchased their from Durios Louisiana Nursery near Opelousas.
Its inevitable, says Nancy, that rare, hard-to-propagate plants will cost more, and persons who want these special plants must be willing to pay that price.
Bald cypress trees line brick sidewalks downtown
This QUESTION asked March 16, 1996: The new landscaping (or Treescaping) along Jefferson Street looks great but I cant tell what kind of trees they are.
Answer: Common bald cypress trees are planted along the new brick sidewalks. Without foliage now, the regular conical form of young cypresses is clearly defined, and the effect is very attractive.
In addition to the interesting branching pattern, fern-like foliage will be a plus bright green in spring and rust-brown in autumn. These are the same cypresses that we see growing in the Basin. Bald cypress is the state tree of Louisiana.