Over the past few weeks, Kenyon has celebrated the 50th anniversary of women attending the College. Now we also celebrate a new community member — this one not scholarly, but topiary. As part of the Women at Kenyon celebration, the Buildings and Grounds department has planted a new tree on campus. The tree was planted in a ceremony on Sept 14., and now resides on the lawn in front of the Church of the Holy Spirit.
The new tree is a Fagus Sylvatica Pendula, otherwise known as a European Weeping Beech. There are three other trees of this species on campus, one of which is commonly called the “upside-down tree”. Located beside the walkway to Peirce Dining Hall, this tree is notable for its prominent size and its mass of downward-drooping branches. The tree has long been a staple of campus, with students sometimes studying or hanging out underneath it. According to Grounds Manager Steve Vaden, the new tree may one day be just as impressive. However, Vaden warns that students eager for a second upside-down tree will have a long wait ahead of them.
“It’s going to be a while [before it’s fully grown],” Vaden said. “Trees have a tendency when they’re transplanted to do what is termed ‘transplant shock.’ When you dig a tree and you cut roots as you dig it, that tree has to replenish those roots. Sometimes they will sit there for a number of years and not look like they’re doing anything except surviving. They don’t put on a lot of growth, but they’re growing underground, trying to replace those roots.”
He adds that the weeping beech near Peirce has been growing for close to a century to attain its current size. One of the other campus beeches, located in the garden near Ascension Hall, was planted more recently and is much smaller.
While the 50th anniversary of coeducation celebration is over, the Buildings and Grounds committee is far from finished with its tree-planting efforts. Vaden says that the department has plans to plant between 15 and 25 new trees this fall. Some trees will be planted on the newly reconstructed hill above the Kenyon Athletic Center, others will be located in the wooded area below Peirce and some will be situated near Bexley Hall.
“We wound up over the years having a lot of trees damaged in storms, and some of them had just reached the end of their life cycle,” Vaden said. “We’ve always tried to get into a habit of planting trees, but we’re having a concerted effort now to put more in and get our count back up to where we should be.”