The bloom of spring

April 17, 2012 •

Since the late 1880s, when one of the first trees -- a Plains Cottonwood -- was planted near Old Main, the University of Colorado Boulder’s tree population has grown to more than 4,100 trees comprising more than 100 species.

Mary Sewall, wife of the university’s first president, was responsible for much of the early landscaping. She beautified the barren surroundings with large green lawns and many trees.

Today, Senior Grounds Specialist Alan Nelson credits the stone construction, size and positioning of many campus buildings for helping to create microclimates conducive to a variety of trees that would not typically grow in Colorado.

“We’ve got some really unique things here on campus,” said Nelson. “In many ways it’s a tribute to my predecessors, in that they were willing to push the envelope and try things that on paper may not grow here. They were able to have success with some of these exotic things.”

For the second year in a row, CU-Boulder is being recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree Campus USA for excellence in tree management, as well as student and community involvement.

The Arbor Day Foundation issues the Tree Campus USA designation to campuses that meet five requirements including convening a tree advisory committee, creating a tree care plan, implementing a tree program, holding an Arbor Day observance and offering a service-learning project.

CU-Boulder will be presented the Tree Campus USA designation and will celebrate Arbor Day with a tree-planting demonstration on April 27, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, and will begin at the Norlin Quadrangle, southwest of the Eaton Humanities Building. Invited speakers include campus leaders, as well as state forestry officials and representatives from the city of Boulder. The Arbor Day Foundation is donating 20 trees of varying species to CU-Boulder.

Nelson leads tree walks on campus in conjunction with the CU Museum of Natural History and the CU Heritage Center, educating participants on the history and significance of CU-Boulder’s trees.

The next tree walk, which is free and open to the public, will be held on May 2 beginning at 5 p.m. on the west steps outside of Norlin Library. The tour will be followed at 6 p.m. by a reception at the CU Heritage Center in Old Main. At 7 p.m., Kathleen Alexander, city forester, will share her Notable Trees of Colorado presentation in the Old Main Chapel.

In addition, a tree walk will be held on May 22, beginning at 5 p.m. outside of the north doors of the Henderson Building. It is free and open to the public. 

Participants do not need to register ahead of time for the tree walks, but should wear comfortable walking shoes.