My love of big trees began when I was a child growing up in the hills of Beard’s Hollow. My childhood was filled with adventure exploring hundreds of acres on rolling hillsides and in seemingly endless creek bottoms.
Along these bottomlands and ridges grew some very large oaks, the first of which I met at the ripe old age of five. My family explained that most of the
land was cleared over the years, and that only a handful of these ancient trees still existed, relics of a distant past. These memories have played an important role in shaping the course of my life.
As a teenager, I visited Landis’ Great Oak and again as a college student, volunteer, and, still later, as a member of the Arboretum’s staff. I was appointed as Director of Horticulture in 1998 and served as a steward of the Great Oak for many years. Despite its being an old tree with structural defects, this venerable oak was a rather healthy specimen, considering its age of more than 400 years.
In 2011, Hurricane Irene was the force that ended the Great Oak’s life, but as with all of nature, death brings rebirth. A new oak has been planted to replace the Great Oak. As the massive and ancient Great Oak has deteriorated, many visitors have asked us where we think the next “Great Oak” is hiding.
I am happy to announce that, this spring, the Landis Arboretum is sponsoring our first Great Oak Hunt! The mission: to find the three largest white and red oak trees located in our surrounding counties of Schoharie, Montgomery, Saratoga, Fulton, Otsego, Herkimer, Delaware, Greene, Albany, and Schenectady. If you are not located in the counties mentioned, we will also be awarding prizes for new State and National Champions — so all entries are welcome.
The hunt will officially run this year from April 1 – October 1. Nomination forms and instructions for obtaining measurements will be on our website (landisarboretum.org) at the start of the contest. Prizes will be awarded to those who locate the top three white and red oaks found in the contest area.
Volume 35 , Number 2