For nearly a century, visitors to Berry College have enjoyed the beauty and shade of a towering allée (pathway) of oak trees planted in the early 1920s to honor the 11 Berry boys who were killed during World War I. Today, campus officials are taking steps to ensure that this living memorial continues to provide inspiration for decades to come.
Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor who has given $50,000 in support of the project, work crews are moving forward with a replacement plan for the allée, which lines the Road of Remembrance from Morgan and Deerfield halls to the four-way stop at the log cabins, then turns left on Memorial Drive to the war memorial near old Victory Lake.
In the coming weeks, approximately 130 willow oaks will be planted along this stretch of roadway. At the same time, a dozen of the older trees that are diseased and reaching the end of their lifespan will be removed.
The new trees, each 15-20 feet tall and weighing 2,000 pounds, are being supplied by Select Trees in Athens, a firm specializing in large “sustainable” trees possessing superior insect and disease resistant foliage as well as an ability to fix carbon dioxide at higher rate, thus allowing for faster growth. The new allée will consist of willow oaks, which have a much longer lifespan than the original trees (mostly water oaks), one-third of which have already been lost due to drought and disease.
Preparations for the planting began in November when Berry’s landscape master planner flagged the areas where the new trees will be located. They will be planted behind the current rows, mostly alternating between the existing trees.
According to Berry President Steve Briggs, projects such as this one are one way in which the college honors founder Martha Berry’s conviction that “beauty is part of education.”
“Martha Berry wanted the campus to be inspirational,” Dr. Briggs explained. “She believed strongly that beauty had the power to stir the imagination and to cultivate civility and hope. As an institution, we are committed to preserving and enhance the amazing campus she has left for us. This project is a testament to our strategic goal of making the most of this incomparable asset.”
Planting is expected to begin sometime in the next week. Depending on the weather, the project should take about three weeks to complete.
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