Arboreal Life at SMUS

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Our campus is now officially in bloom and over the break we had a visit from Verna Mumby of Mumby Tree Services, who is helping to keep our resident plant life healthy, especially one of the most prominent features of our campus: the tree in front of School House.

The massive blue atlas cedar tree (cedrus atlantica “Glauca”) is more than 100 years old (Verna estimates it was planted around 1910) and is a conifer of the “true cedar family”: one of the cedars of Lebanon. It’s a particularly interesting specimen as it’s unusual to have such an old and well-established tree of this type in North America.

“Trees are like people,” says Verna. “Give them the right environment, feed them well, and they can live a long time.”

Much like SMUS has grown and changed, so has our tree. Today, the trunk has a circumference of over 11 feet and the branches – and roots – extend out over the edge of the sports field. Nearly 60 feet tall, our tree can consume 300 gallons of water on a hot day.

“People think big trees don’t need as much, but they require tender loving care,” says Verna. “Trees get stressed out from a lack of room, an inability to access food and water with their root system and even having construction nearby.”

Cathy and Colin, part of our groundskeeping staff at SMUS, have been active in helping many of our trees survive. This has included providing root systems with access to water and air by removing grass and some flowers (both of which can absorb a lot of water) from around their trunks.

In addition to our massive cedar, Verna also assessed our other campus trees, including the native Garry Oak at the front entrance and our many cherry blossom trees, putting together a plan for us on their differing needs.

With proper care, the School House tree could live for another 1000 years. Visitors often remark on the lushness and ample greenery we enjoy, so it makes perfect sense that we work to preserve it and keep our fraction of the natural world as intact as we can.

Our Kindergarten students recently came up to explore the many trees and plant life on our Richmond campus as part of their unit on nature.

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