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Storm Story 

By Chris Cady

In late September Grant Park experienced a freak microburst of torrential rain and close to hurricane force winds that lasted for just a few minutes, or so I’ve been told. I was at Peachtree Battle at the time and there was no significant amount of wind there. 

I’m not aware of the extent or breadth of the freak storm event, but the area where I live, between Grant Street to Hill Street (east to west) and I-20 to Georgia Avenue and Pavillion Street (north to south) was devastated. We lost primarily older, mature oak trees. These trees measured 30-40 plus inches in diameter and were roughly 80 feet tall! Chances are some of these trees qualified as “witness trees” to the Battle of Atlanta, as I have learned that some oaks have a lifespan of 400 years. 

This violent ending was such a shock to our neighborhood, particularly if your house happened to be in the impact zone. But this is probably one of various ways which ends the life of a mature oak naturally. 

This event got me thinking of all the signs from concerned citizens to “Save the Atlanta Forest,” which is undoubtedly a great idea. But if you really look at what is happening in your own yard right now at this time of year, you can see that the Atlanta Forest is trying to restore itself! And doing well, considering what it’s dealing with. 

For example, take my yard/slice of heaven on Sydney Street. I built my house on this 50-by-125-foot lot back in 1993. My front yard is 50 feet wide. When I built the house, I planted 3, $7.50 crepe myrtles which are now 25 feet tall and produce an incredible number of seeds. I also planted a red maple which is now 12-14 inches in diameter and 30 feet tall and produces huge quantities of pretty helicopter seeds, as well as the resulting seedlings that end up in my and my neighbors’ yards. 

I’m sure I can find 20 or more “volunteers” anywhere from 4 inches to 1½ feet all over my small yard. Heck, I’ve got three or four magnolias beside my house that appeared around a year ago and now stand 2-3 feet high! Magnolias! 

Some of the “volunteers” that I let grow in the yard have gotten to be 6-8 inches in diameter and tower over my two-story house. Prior to the storm I had cut a couple down and trimmed the others. It was well-timed yard maintenance. And a great way to spend $1,000 or so! 

The oaks at this time of year — as well as the pecans, tulip poplars, hickories and others — are all dropping nuts and seeds, as well as being carried and buried in our yards by the squirrels (a whole ‘nother topic on its own). There are tons of nuts all over the place and if you let them sprout, I can guarantee you that you will get a tree. Trust me!

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