Street Talk

Want To Make A Long Lasting Impact – Plant A Tree

By Mickey Howley

Tomorrow on Main Street, right downtown in front of Mechanics Bank, the Yalobusha Soil and Water Conservation District will be giving away tree seedlings. The Water Valley Main Street Association will be there helping.  

Why would Main Street help give out trees? We think of ourselves as more bricks and mortar types, mainly interested in the business district, in historic preservation, in the re-vitalizing of our town center than landscaping.

However, it is the same spirit that motivates volunteers to paint streetscapes and clean up urban grunge, is also the same spirit that motivates one to plant a tree. The work of doing something that may seem insignificant at the moment, but given time, will have long lasting effects.

Sawtooth oaks, nuttall oaks, water oaks and cypress are the four species to be handed out. None of them are especially fast growers; please don’t expect to have a 35 foot tree in 5 years from a 24 inch seedling.  You will not see a dramatic result immediately, planting trees, like restoration work, is not for those who want instant gratification.  The funny thing about trees is, the smaller the tree planted, given the right location, the faster and stronger it will grow. That’s the trick with lots of things, plan ahead, start small, use quality stuff and nurture it continuously and the growth will be consistent, strong and ultimately substantial.

My personal favorite of those four trees is the cypress. It might be my “born on the bayou south of I-10” bias, but cypress trees, with their buttressed trunks tapering up to a spire top and their delicate feathery leaves seem simply elegant. Plus they are tough, tougher than you can imagine, they shrug off hurricanes that decimate ancient live oaks and snap majestic pines like twigs. Here is what I like best, the older they are the more resistant they become to rot and disease.  I planted five of them several years ago, each year they are just a little bigger.

Back in 1973 Water Valley had a downtown beatification plan done. It consisted mainly of building facade renovation, some parking and streetscape work and the planting of a just a few trees on Main Street. It is not for me to second guess why those plans were not acted on, only that when I visit a town like Sardis and see their crepe myrtles on Main St or see the oddly lovely ginkgo trees Columbus has planted that I wonder what would our Main Street look like now 36 years later. Please pick up some trees tomorrow and plant them carefully (look out for power, water and sewer lines), get your hands and feet dirty, it won’t kill you and much later, if you are lucky, you’ll  enjoy the results.

Please visit www.watervalleymainstreet.com and take part in our poll and give us your opinion on what trees would be great in Water Valley.

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