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Plant a Tree, Plant a Legacy

By Martha Kirk, Colorado Master Gardener

Let’s face it. Trees are a magnificent part of the landscape. They provide shade and cooling, provide habitat for animals, sequester carbon, add value to property, and add important structure and presence to the garden. When you plant a tree, you are planting a legacy for future generations to enjoy.

Photo credit:, Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)

Research-based resources can help guide you in deciding what tree to plant. The Front Range Tree Recommendation List and fact sheets from CSU are good resources. Recently, another resource has become available, The Rollinger Tree Collection 50-Year Survey Project.

Fifty years ago, a young landscape designer Alan Rollinger surveyed 1,148 major trees of 46 species in Denver to gain insight into the history and health of the city’s urban canopy. The Rollinger Tree Collection 50-Year Survey Project revisited the project 50 years later, collected data, and reported their findings. The results are interesting!

The Rollinger Survey Project included more unusual trees and recorded the species, diameter and height. 60% of the trees in the project were still alive 50 years later. Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) and Kentucky coffee tree (Gymnocladus dioicus) had the highest survival rates.

The information gleaned from the project has proven invaluable, from understanding growth patterns and mortality rates to learning about the histories and stories of some notable trees.

This winter find a comfortable chair and peruse these documents so you will be ready in the spring to plant your next legacy tree.

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