A gardener’s adage is “right plant, right place” to ensure that plantings remain and thrive with the right amount of light, exposure and water. One of the more surprising Vancouver trees that survived for ninety years in Kerrisdale was a sequoia that somehow was planted in the 1930’s in the 2300 block of West 41st Avenue. Over the years development on the block was setback in order for the tree to flourish, which it did for many years.
Giant sequoias live in Northern California, Oregon and Washington State and can grow to nine meters in diameter, and 76 meters high. The biggest Sequoia is known as General Sherman. It stands a towering 84 meters tall with a 31 meter girth. It is the largest tree on earth by volume.
When the building occupied by Bill Chow Jewellers located at 2241 West 41st Avenue was constructed, there was some allowance for increase building height due to the positioning of the sequoia. I could not find the decades old City of Vancouver document which would have referenced that.
Over the decades there have been all kinds of efforts to maintain this tree, and in the final years it had care by an arborist. Sadly the tree became very stressed at its concreted over location and it was taken down in 2019. The huge trunk was carted away by flatbed truck to be milled for eventual reuse as benches in the Arbutus Greenway.
It was intended that the students at Magee Secondary would be making the benches this year, but that would have been delayed due to the Covid pandemic.
As Terry Clark with the Kerrisdale Business Association stated “We intend to affix a modest plaque on the benches to give reference to this once woody sentinel that was at the village’s heart for 90 or more years. It seemed appropriate to me that its heart would remained with the community that was heartbroken at its demise.”
In the interim, the wall behind the tree’s stump has been turned into a blackboard for chalked positive affirmations in the face of the Covid crisis.
And there is news for sequoias too~with climate change, there has been a rethink of what to replace native tree forests with, when faced with demise by pests (like the mountain pine beetle) or by fire.
In the YouTube video below forester Dirk Brinkman who has been planting trees for four decades sees the sequoia as a new replacement tree in forests. Sequoias have not naturally lived in British Columbia for 10,000 years, but with climate change, this giant of the pre-glacial forest may be due for an emergence as a replanted species, replacing forest trees that can no longer survive with warmer, more temperate weather.
Images: dailyhive, sandyjames