Lord’s willow weathers windstorm

Offspring planted around Red Deer

Red Deer’s beloved heritage tree known as Lord’s willow stood strong in the June 20th windstorm losing just one branch.

“It wasn’t even a substantial branch. We lost a few other substantial branches a few years ago,” said the city’s urban forester Susan Katzell on Thursday about the oldest city-owned tree in Red Deer.

Lord’s willow, located at the corner of 47th Avenue and 55th Street, is 111 years old and is included in Heritage Trees of Alberta, a book put out by the Heritage Tree Foundation of Canada in 2008.

The acute leaf willow, that stands about nine-metres tall (30 feet) with a trunk over 1.5-metres wide (five feet), is located on the former property of W. E. Lord, an early Red Deer merchant.

Located near the sidewalk, the huge canopy of branches also stretch out about nine metres towards 55th Street.

“It’s an astounding tree.”

When the Lord family’s home was demolished in the 1960s to make way for an apartment building the tree was saved, and the apartment was named The Willows after the tree.

“We do manage it because it’s considered a veteran tree,” Katzell said.

She said the city was quite pleased the tree survived the wind storm. A few spring snow storms have done worse damage to the willow.

“It still is in very good shape. They do tend to heal over old wounds quite well.”

A willow of similar age and stature is located on private property in the parking lot of Baymont Inn and Suites, and there are some other trees that have lasted to a ripe, old age.

“I know there’s a few large elm and a few large oak. There’s an Ohio buckeye that’s a fairly aged fellow too.”

Most older trees are located in the city’s downtown and older neighbourhoods.

Other city-owned willows, not quite as old as Lord’s willow, can be found in Coronation Park, and there’s even a few Lord’s willow offspring located city. One was planted in Barrett Park a few years ago and one was moved this year to Twin Spruce Garden Plots near 30th Avenue and 19th Street.

“I’m trying to keep the genetics going on the Lord’s willow. Forestry has taken cuttings of the Lord’s willow. We’ve got a couple in our nursery and we’ve planted a couple around the city too.

“It’s just good to keep those genetics because they are the true, tough as nails genetics. I don’t want to lose those genetics and everybody in the horticultural industry doesn’t to want to lose those genetics either. They understand the value of keeping those big trees going.”

szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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