October 16, 2020
Builder protects live oaks at the North End

                                          Life under the live oaks on the Feeder Road  by Betty Willcox

By Mary Reid Barrow

Live oaks do their best to make sure you don’t forget about them.

Whether leaves, catkins or acorns,  the trees are dropping something every season of the year as reminders of their strong sturdy presence.

This time of year, it’s the acorns and you can hear them day and night.  The nuts are dropping,  popping off the front porch deck and pinging off the roof of the car.

The squirrels are in live oak heaven as they munch on the treats or dig little holes  in the ground to store them for the winter.

At the North End, live oaks grow up and down the Feeder Road median and in yards that front on the Feeder Road   We residents take the archway of trees for granted as we  bike, walk, skate, jog and walk our dogs under the beautiful canopy.

So do the squirrels as they scamper among the trees,  searching  for acorns.  The dogs on walks along the feeder are on constant alert. Someday,  a dog will say to itself, I am going to catch one of those acorn raiders. Just you wait!

Whatever the season, the live oaks are  a blissful aspect of life along the Feeder Road. That we are so lucky was especially on my mind when I attended a ceremony where the Friends of Live Oaks recognized Chris Ettel of VB Builders:

The non-profit is dedicated to preserving and planting live oak trees in Virginia Beach. The group presented a plaque to Ettel at one of his building sites at 74th Street and Atlantic Avenue where he went the extra mile to protect live oaks from the ongoing construction:

You can see protective fencing still in place at the  74thStreet corner and the finished result at 75th Street.  Fences prevent construction equipment from causing  soil compaction and root damage along with trunk and branch damage.  The live oak is our city’s official tree and the Friends group is dedicated to working with  local developers to try and help protect the city’s iconic symbol.

Live oaks not only add to life’s pleasures along the Feeder Road,  but they also are valiant protectors of our coast.  Live oaks stand strong against hurricane winds and flood waters.   And Virginia Beach in this time of climate change needs trees more  than ever to help combat flooding and improve our air and water quality.

So,  many thanks to Chris Ettel and to anyone else who saves a tree or plants a tree.  Virginia Beach needs more and more tree huggers and tree planters.

And the live oaks are working hard to make sure we don’t forget!

Do you have a favorite tree or plant with a story to tell?  What relationships have you observed  between plants and critters?  Who eats whom?  Who has babies where?   Send an email to



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