*NOTE** I didn’t realize at the time of this posting the tragic criminal events that would happen a week after the Iron Bowl of 2010 that this would be a memorial to our Toomer’s Corner oaks. They live on in their off spring even in T-town! War Eagle!!
Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, Biloxi, New Orleans, Old Ironsides and old Southern plantations. What do all of these have in common? Historic homes and stately live oak
trees covered in Spanish moss called live oaks. The life span of live oaks is measured in centuries. It is a majestic very large evergreen tree growing 40 to 60 feet tall and 100 feet in width which makes it the broadest spreading best shade producing oak tree. So it needs plenty of room to grown and no where near concrete areas as the surface roots can lift sidewalks as the tree matures. It’s not a tree for patio homes. The saddest sight is seeing this stately tree planted under a power line with a hole cut through the middle of top half gone. It is a very tough wood. Ask the British. The U.S.S. Constitution reportedly received its nickname, “Old Ironsides,” during the War of 1812 because its live oak hull was so tough that British war ships’ cannon balls literally bounced off its hull.
My first introduction to live oaks wasn’t at one of the coastal plantations or one of the historical cities that symbolize the live oak. It was at downtown Auburn Alabama at a place called Toomer’s Corner while a student at Auburn. I’m not sure how the custom started but the live oaks at Toomer’s Corner get rolled after every Auburn football victory. At some point over the years the rolling starts at Toomer’s Corner and extends a block back toward school. I remember as a student that if you needed toilet paper during football season, you had a hard time finding it. I can imagine how many rolls are used in today’s rolling. It has to be in the tens of thousands. Come Monday city crews are out with the power washers flushing away all of the paper.
As a result of cleansing, the live oaks at Toomer’s were having health issues, and the Forestry Department started collecting acorns to grow replacement trees for when the time comes. A couple of sore losers, most recently a Georgia fan haven’t helped the trees by setting fire to the toilet paper. The extra seedlings were offered to the public only with a certificate of authenticity as a forestry scholarship fund raiser.
When I ordered my seedling #141756 six years ago from the Forestry Department, I didn’t think that a live oak would make it this far north from the coast. They prefer winters where temperatures do not dip lower than 10 degrees which does occur in NW Alabama. So I really didn’t expect it to live, but it was for a good cause. When I got my seedling which was about 12-18 inches tall, I didn’t even plant it in the ground, but rather dug up a low area a little. I set the tree down and put a few bags of planting mix and garden soil around it and made a fence with concrete blocks around it until I could build up the area later. This is not how you are supposed to plant a tree..
Fast forward to 2010, the tough little tree is up to over 10 feet tall and the Iron Bowl was coming up. This year Auburn was undefeated and had lost to Alabama the last three times, but not this year. Down 24-0 in the first half, they mounted a come back of historical proportions to win the game. Since I had to work and couldn’t join the
celebration at Toomer’s Corner, I rolled my baby Toomer’s Corner live oak. This was my first attempt at rolling. I pulled off several feet and threw the roll over the top of the tree, only it didn’t make it over. I lodged into the top branches of the tree. I had to get a pole and flip the tp out of the tree and start over. Hopefully I’ll get to roll it two more times this football season.
If you really want to see a truly magnificent tree, plan a trip to Charleston or Savannah soon. A picture just won’t do one justice.
The hooligans? They’ve been busy helping me uncover things like the roots of a 12 year old plum tree and a shipment of daffodil bulbs and recently transplanted daylilies, More on that in another post. This afternoon when I came home from work I noticed a mouse in a trap in the garage. I pulled it out from behind my worm composter so I could pick it up and Blackie grabbed it and ran. I spent 5 minutes running after her in my good work shoes trying to get the trap back. Finally she let me have the trap and kept the mouse.