Columbus, Ohio the memory of trees…

by Maureen McCabe on June 19, 2011

Insect to wipe street clean of trees in the Columbus Dispatch, calls them tree lawns….

The part of the front yard on the other side of the sidewalk.  That part of the front yard, owned by  the city?  Or the city has control of it?  Or the city has control of the tree on the patch of grass between the street and the sidewalk anyway.

More ash trees are being removed from Columbus streets due to the Emerald Ash Borer, a bug.  The Columbus Dispatch article by Lauren Hepler of the Columbus Dispatch says:

“In communities, parks and recreation departments cut down ash trees on public rights of way, including tree lawns, but trees on private property are left for the landowner.”

We called “tree lawns” something else in the town I grew up in and cities I have lived in since.  I was a small child when streets in southern Wisconsin, and northern Illinois devastated by Dutch Elm Disease….  I think Dutch Elm Disease may have been what made me get in touch with my “inner Druid.”  I remember the huge trees on my paternal grandparent’s farm being removed.  I remember all the streets near my maternal grandparent’s north-side Chicago house becoming bare.  The huge shade trees which were all American Elms had to be removed.   Dutch Elm Disease was a fungus?  It did not come from Holland…  identification of what was wrong that these huge trees were dying came from someone who was Dutch.

I bet there are photos of Clintonville, Victorian Village, Worthington with elm shaded streets before the 1960s.  I think Dutch Elm Disease was a national thing.

I think we called the “tree lawn”…  “the terrace” in the small south-eastern Wisconsin city I grew up in.  Or perhaps that is just what my parents called it. Maybe that came from where they grew up.  My parents both loved trees.  Our little cape – cod in a late 1950s neighborhood did not have trees.  Our neighborhood was a former farm field.   A builder planted some little boxes in a former farm field, the two houses on either side of us had some scrubby trees.  That and some barbed wire we found at the back of our lots convinced us we were at the edge of a farm field that became suburbia on the edge of the farm fields that met “the city.”

I can tell maples, oaks… I know a hawthorn when I see one.  I mostly learned what trees are what trees by their leaves, well except birch trees and crab apples….    From walks in Highbanks Metro Park I can identify Black Cherry trees and others by their bark.

I probably would not know an elm if it bit me.


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