What is man, that thou art mindful of him?
And the son of man, that thou visitest him?
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,
And hast crowned him with glory and honour.
Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands;
Thou hast put all things under his feet.

~Psalm 8:4-6

(Pls. click the arrows in the lower right corner to watch full-screen.)

As shown below, Google Maps Street View has a feature that allows all the photos that Google has taken of a scene over the years to be accessed. In the upper left corner of a street-view screen, please notice the small rectangle that displays the date the current photo was taken. Beneath that there is a timeline that covers the time the first photo of the scene was taken to the time the last photo was shot. The photos can be accessed by clicking on the dots on the timeline.

Image #1. [pls. click to enlarge.]

Google Maps has taken 10 photos of the northwest corner of N. Academy St. and W. Chatham St. between 2007 and 2016. We focus on seven trees in the picture: the three on Chatham, the two in the plaza of the bank, and the two on Academy.

At some time prior to the first image being taken in 2007, but after the trees had been planted, the Town replaced the sidewalks around the trees with brick paving. This brick paving left each of the five trees on the streets with approximately one square foot of open ground from which to draw nutrition and water, with the raised perimeter bricks preventing water from flowing over the trunk, thus effectively sealing their doom. [pls. see image #1]. After the re-paving, these trees had NO chance of survival. All that remained was to see how long their inherent life forces could keep them alive.

After the inevitable quick deaths of these five trees, three replacements were planted. This time the bricks were replaced such that they touched the trunks of the three young trees. [pls. see image #2].

Image #2. [pls. click to enlarge.]

The three trees on the side of the bank are improperly planted and mulched, with their root flares and parts of their trunks covered with soil and mulch. The mulch is piled up their trunks for some distance. The mulch is replenished each year. These trees too have no chance of survival. Their deaths will take a little longer than the street trees, but the end result will be the same. Note that from the time of the first picture below, October, 2007 to the time of the last picture, August, 2016 — almost nine years — these two trees [both having a direct southern exposure] have grown less than one foot!

(Please click on an image to enlarge it.)

October 2007 - Academy and Chatham Streets, northwest corner, the Town of Cary's main intersection.

July 2011 - Trees have a very strong life force. It takes a lot of harm to kill them. This sequence shows how trees channel their desire to grow into a desperate attempt just to survive. Note that, in three years and nine months, the trees have not grown at all.

September 2012 - Still holding on, but it is clear that deprivation of water and nutrients STOPS the growth of the trees.

April 2015 - First casualties. Sometime in the last 2½ years, two of the three trees on Chatham and both of the trees on Academy died and were removed. One tree on Chatham and two on Academy were replaced. The empty spot on Chatham was bricked over.

June 2015 - After the new trees were planted, bricks were relaid such that they touched the trunks of the new trees on all sides. [See here.] After complaints that the trees were being desiccated, the Town placed Gator Bags on them [Gator Bags hold water and release it over time.]

March 2016 - The last of the three original trees on Chatham has died and been sawn down. Note also that the two trees on the bank's plaza have died, and been replaced by two more trees.

August 2016 - The three newly-planted trees already show clear evidence of upper-branch die-off, a certain sign that the process of death has begun.

In order to plant and nurture trees that will make the downtown streets beautiful, there must be a desire to do it and a commitment to do it correctly.
Here is what must be done:

  • First and foremost, there must be an office established within the executive branch of the Town of Cary government that is charged with supervision of the planning of what trees will be planted, where they will be planted, and how they will be planted. Without this office, willy-nilly planting of trees as has been done in the past will continue, with the SAME results as detailed above, and in innumerable other places within the Town.
  • Image #3. [pls. click to enlarge.] Note the orange tape — the symbol of human failure.

  • Genetically strong trees must be selected, of a species that will be long-lived, produce large rounded crowns, and that have been proven to thrive when planted as street trees. Effort expended in this vein will produce strong long-range benefits.
  • When the species of tree has been determined, the candidate specimens for planting should be inspected to insure that only healthy trees are selected.
  • The planting places must first be addressed. A street tree of ANY species requires, at a minimum, 32 square feet of unpaved earth in which to thrive. The pit must be of at least this size [Wake Forest allows 40 square feet for the trees on its roadways]. The failure to allow for sufficent soil space for street trees is the reason that today [2017] there are five downtown trees currently scheduled to be cut down [images #3 and #4]. In but a few more years, even more downtown trees will suffer this same fate. It is imperative that this cycle be interrupted, and a sustainable process be established in its place!
  • Image #4. [pls. click to enlarge.]

  • The soil within the pits must be amended such that construction debris is removed, and suitable fertilizer and peat moss is incorporated.
  • In order to save money, recycled-rubber tree grates should be used. These grates cost one-third what metal grates cost [and ship for one-fourth the cost]; do not rust and drip iron oxide particles onto the trees' roots; are less slippery for human shoes when wet; are easily lifted out of the pits by one person without heavy-lifting equipment, thus allowing for necessary periodic amendment of the soil and re-mulching of the pits; and most importantly, can be lifted out and cut with a small hand saw to allow for [what should be the inevitable] growth and expansion of the trees' trunks.
  • Here — it cannot be overstated — the placing of trees in the ground is of paramount importance. This video shows the proper way to place a tree in the ground. The video is 30 minutes long and its technical quality is very low. However, the information it imparts is vital. Its teachings MUST be understood and followed!
  • The paving surrounding the tree pits should be of permeable material. Although more expensive at the outset, this pays multiple dividends in the long run. The trees' roots will expand outward from the pits seeking the water that seeps through the paving, thus strengthening them and allowing for their faster growth. More storm water will be absorbed into the earth and not channeled into storm-water runoff drains that take surface pollution directly into our streams and lake.
  • Trees thus planted must be respected for what they are, and allowed to provide their natural benefits to Cary residents and visitors. [A partial list of the benefits that trees provide to humans is here.] Under no circumstances should any artificial devices be placed on the trees, including strings of electrical lights, which not only cause the trees to become misshapen and stunted; interrupt the trees' natural circadian rhythms; discourage natural wildlife, critical to human existence, from inhabiting the trees; and radically shorten their lives.

    Therefore, to be possess'd with double pomp,
    To guard a title that was rich before,
    To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
    To throw a perfume on the violet,
    To smooth the ice, or add another hue
    Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
    To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish
    Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.

    ~William Shakespeare
    King John

(Pls. click the arrows in the lower right corner to watch full-screen.)

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Objective #1

That the Town of Cary establish an office whose head reports directly to the Town Manager, dedicated solely to addressing environmental issues. The office will consist of two parts. One part will be a Skunk Works, a group given a high degree of autonomy and charged with devising ways that the Town can move rapidly towards sustainability. The second will be an inspection unit charged with ensuring compliance with sustainability measures undertaken by the Town.

Objective #2

That the Town of Cary establish within its limits a combination botanical garden, arboretum, and tree nursery.

Objective #3

That within the next decade, the Town of Cary properly plant one million additional trees within its borders and nurture them correctly.

Objective #4

That the Town of Cary adopt a long-lived and beautiful noble hardwood tree as its Official Tree.

Objective #5

That the Town of Cary re-start the now-defunct Wake County Champion and Notable Tree List, and that it be administered by volunteers using a donated program and server space.