By Mary Reid Barrow
A huge muscular southern red oak, 22 feet around, is the newest member of LRNow’s Notable Tree Registry.
This elder statesman serves as the unofficial guardian of the Berkshire Apartments in Oceana.
“If I were to name that tree, I would name it Samson,” said Frank McManus, who was a maintenance worker at the apartments for eight years. “It looks so strong.”
Frank, who now works for Meredith Construction, said he used to pick up trash under the tree and never got tired of looking at the old oak. He remembered and contacted Brent James, LRNow’s Notable Tree coordinator, and told him how special the oak was.
Brent, pictured above, agreed and when he measured the tree, he found it ranks among the top ten trees in the Notable Tree registry!
“It germinated in 1680-1690ish, almost 100 years before the Declaration of Independence,” Brent said, “and only about 80 years after John Smith arrived at Jamestown.”
Frank said he always wondered who could have stood under the tree, perhaps Revolutionary War or Civil War soldiers, among others.
For sure, the oak could tell the tale of how Oceana grew over the past 300 years, from woods, to farmland, to home, to a train station along the tracks between Norfolk and Virginia Beach, and on to the neighborhood it is today. And the oak also would recall with gratitude that it was saved when the Berkshire Apartments took over some of the last remaining farmland in the area in the 1980s.
The tree is located where Twin Oaks Lane and Green Oaks Lane intersect. It can look straight up Green Oaks Lane and wave a branch to its smaller cousin, a beautiful 230-year-old willow oak at the end of Green Oaks on West Lane in front of Bobi Garrison’s home.
Brent immediately noticed the willow oak, measured it and put the 230-year-old tree on the Notable Tree Registry that day too.
Bobi said years ago, the willow oak and some long gone companions were among her reasons for purchasing the old farmhouse.
Communities all over the United States reflect what their surroundings once were with place names like Oak Grove or Elm Street, but rarely are the trees still standing.
Oceana is in luck to have two beautiful old trees that still reflect its past.
“It fascinates me what the oak could say if it could talk,” Frank said.
Learn more about our Notable Tree program HERE.
LRNow would love to hear your nature news. Whether it’s about unusual plants or critters you see on your walks or find on the beach or tales of good folks who care for the environment, let firstname.lastname@example.org know.