When the City of Hendersonville established its Heritage Tree program in 1990, eight trees were soon so designated in various neighborhoods around town.
During the next decade, a few more applications dribbled in. Recently, however, six new Heritage Trees were approved by City Council, and another is under consideration, after applications were made by property owners where the trees are located. Most of the recently designated Heritage Trees are near or on Kanuga Street on properties with older or historically significant homes. The Hendersonville Tree Board is the agency through which the applications are screened.
“These trees are noteworthy in various ways,” said Mark Madsen, a member of the Tree Board who is currently updating the criteria for the City’s Heritage Tree designation. Last month, Madsen led a guided winter tree walk along Third and Fourth Avenues in Hendersonville’s West Side Historic District neighborhood where three registered Heritage Trees were highlighted. The combined ages of those three trees is estimated at well over 200 years.
A rating system is being fine-tuned to grade future applications for Heritage Tree status, which will include ratings for type of species, size of the tree, condition, and location.
“Large, mature, shapely trees give wonderful character to our historic neighborhoods and to our quality of life,” Madsen said. “They sometimes provide important habitat for wildlife, and they often have significant historic value to the community. Hundreds of people a day drive along downtown avenues and streets on their way to somewhere else. We rarely have a chance to really look at and appreciate the special beauty of these wonderful trees.”
But property owners who do the paperwork to designate their trees as Heritage quality are quite aware of how special those trees are. White oaks are among our oldest and largest designated trees, but also with Heritage status are sycamores, Eastern hemlocks, and a handsome yellow buckeye at historic Hendersonville High School. A Southern red oak, recently designated, is adjacent to a historic home designed by architect Erle Stillwell and measures 47 inches in diameter. It once shaded an azalea garden that was open to the public from the 1930s to ‘50s. A healthy Norway spruce with new Heritage status is 30 inches in diameter and 80 feet tall, providing quite a majestic look along a busy thoroughfare.
Numerous cities in the U.S., Canada, and around the world have similar Heritage Tree programs. In 2016, the Village of Flat Rock initiated its own program based largely on the criteria and methods of the Hendersonville program. Designation of a Heritage Tree is voluntary by the property owner, applications are submitted and then screened through the City’s Tree Board, and successful applications are then submitted for approval by Hendersonville City Council. A marker is installed by the City near the Heritage Tree.
On March 20, a special program – For the Love of Trees: How to Create a Garden in the Shade — will celebrate trees and provide advice on shade gardening. The program will be at Hendersonville Public Library auditorium, 6 p.m., sponsored by Hendersonville Tree Board.
Hendersonville Tree Board is commissioned by the City of Hendersonville to provide advice on the selection and care of trees and shrubs in public places. The Tree Board also educates the public concerning the economic and aesthetic benefits of trees and shrubs for the community. The Arbor Day Foundation has recognized Hendersonville as a Tree City USA for 25 years because of its high level of tree care. The city also became a Bee City USA in 2015.
To learn more about Hendersonville Tree Board and find an application and criteria for Heritage Tree designation, visit the webpage at http://www.hendersonvillenc.gov/tree-board.