December 31, 2021
Live oaks provide a canopy of green when most other leafy trees are bare

By Mary Reid Barrow

 Walking on the Feeder Road the other day, I looked up and out of the blue, I found myself  just so happy to be walking under a beautiful green archway of live oak branches.

I posted this photo on my Facebook page and commented about how lucky I was to be able to take walks all winter long under a canopy of green leaves.

And here I am, still talking about it.    Live oaks, our iconic tidewater tree,  line the Feeder Road in many places where their spreading branches reach across the road for the pleasure of  any one–walkers,  bikers,  dogs, cars and more—who chooses to look up..

Live oaks aren’t  called “live” oaks for nothing.  Many beautiful tree species, including  other oaks, grace our coast, but the ones  with leaves, as opposed to needles, are mostly deciduous and lose their leaves in winter.  Not the live oaks!

It’s easy to take this special feature for granted. But how often do we get the chance to walk through  a cathedral on a winter stroll?  That’s how I felt the other day when I looked  up into this shady, graceful bower.

Live oaks are special in other ways too.   You could say they are real survivors.   They stand their ground, protecting our land from soil erosion and rarely succumbing  to hurricanes and floods.

And like many trees, live oaks also absorb carbon dioxide and return oxygen to the air we breathe. Yet, with all these practical assets, live oaks can still  create a utopian world on the Feeder Road, enhancing our  lives (and walks) and the lives of squirrels  birds, insects and other critters too.


But one thing the trees can’t withstand is the chain saw.  Live oaks are regularly cut down  to make room for houses.  And most of those trees are in areas along the Oceanfront and Bayfront that are prone to flooding, areas that need a few good live oaks for protection.

My hope for the new year is  that our canopies of green become as important to our city  as our economic development. With climate change upon us,  It won’t be long before that will be a must …if any trees are left.

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



PEARL HOMES are places where people care about our environment and want to do what they can to help protect our resources.

Learn more»

Lynnhaven River NOW recognizes schools providing outstanding environmental education as a Pearl School.

Learn More»

PEARL BUSINESSES are essential to truly move towards a more sustainable Virginia Beach and cleaner waters.

Learn More »

We all want to do our part to restore the health of all of our sacred waterways and protect them for future generations to enjoy.

Learn More»

SUSTAINABLE YARDS PROGRAM: Let us help you “green” your Lynnhaven watershed home. This unique program provides specific stormwater management practices to your yard at a significantly reduced cost to you.

Learn More»