After going through some rough times, the popular Scotch elm at the southeast end of Brookings Hall has weathered the storm — literally — and appears to be coming through with flying green colors.
In September 2001, strong winds came through and almost split the approximately 90-year-old tree in half at the base. Horticultural manager Paul Norman met with some others to determine the best course of action — try and save the tree, or leave it alone because it wasn’t worth the time, effort and money.
They gave reviving the tree a shot. After hauling away some dead wood and lessening the weight of some branches, they built a series of braces to ease the stress on the limbs.
And nearly two years later, the tree appears to be back on solid ground.
“A lot of people weren’t sure about it, but two years later it seems to be doing quite well and it appears it was money well spent,” Norman said. “It’s actively growing, healing its wound, and right now I don’t think we have anything to be worried about. Which isn’t to say it can’t take a turn for the worse, but right now it’s doing well.”
The braces in place are permanent, as there are signs of failure in the crotch of each of the branches. However, the braces have been erected in such a way as to not compromise the integrity of the tree.
“If we didn’t do anything, the branch could break off and strip down the side of the tree, causing more severe problems,” Norman said. “But the braces are hidden, especially when the tree is in leaf, and we can move them because they aren’t attached to the tree – the limbs are sitting on a support similar to a cradle.
“I don’t see us having a chance at removing the braces completely, but we might move them to avoid some wear on the branches caused when the wind blows.”