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Neighbors sad to see Norfolk magnolia removed | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnl

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Neighbors sad to see Norfolk magnolia removed

hamptonroads.com | Mar 23rd 2012
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NORFOLK

Miles Monroe was driving by in his Mustang on Thursday morning when he stopped to take in the sight.

A city crew had begun cutting the five large limbs that rose from a giant magnolia at the corner of Magnolia Avenue and Carroll Place.

“The first day I moved here, I was climbing on that tree,” Monroe said. Now, he said, he’d need to get his camera to take one last photo.

For more than 160 years, the tree has shaded residents, provided a place for children to play and offered shelter to squirrels and nesting birds. A plaque on the street says the magnolia and dozens like it were shipped to Norfolk from Mississippi in 1848 by Lt. Andrew Weir, who chose the seedlings on his wedding trip to his home state with his wife, Mary Allen.

The magnolias were planted along the lane leading to their home.

Time had taken its toll, though. The tree’s core had rotted from one side to the other.

Bob and Helen Casper called the city to remove the tree. It sits in front of the house they’ve lived in for 47 years. They feared a strong storm would blow it onto their home.

“I’ve been taking pictures with my phone and sending them to my husband all morning,” Helen Casper said. “We’re very sad.”

Her husband grew up down the street and climbed the tree as a boy. After the couple bought the home, their children played in the tree, as did their grandchildren.

“It’s the biggest on the block,” said Casper, who tried to talk the city crew into waiting another day to start cutting so her husband, who was at work, could say goodbye. Casper canceled her plans for the day to watch the crew work. As she spoke, she kept an eye on the clock, hoping her daughter, who was on her way from Maryland, would make it in time for one last look.

“It’s the life cycle,” Casper said. “And I appreciate that. And I certainly don’t want it landing in my house.”

During Hurricane Isabel, a magnolia across the street fell onto a car. It was replaced with a young magnolia, as the Caspers’ tree will be.

It won’t be quite the same.

Casper said she has enjoyed sitting on an upstairs porch, reading a book and watching a squirrel that behaved as if it owned the tree. Starlings nested in its ample branches. Raccoons liked to climb into the hollowed trunk.

A few years back, some honeybees built a hive inside the hollow and the entire neighborhood enjoyed watching them, said Casper, a retired nurse who ended up with some of the honey.

As neighbors passed by on Thursday morning, they stopped and talked.

Courtney Hanson, who lives across the street, said the tree was especially beautiful covered with snow during Christmas 2010.

“It was just majestic, just dramatic and beautiful,” Hanson said.

She took a picture during the tree removal crew’s break. She hoped to steal a chance for her 2-1/2-year-old son Luke to climb the tree as she snapped a photo.

“It’s just sad,” Hanson said. “I’m going to be sad not to have that view anymore.”

Cindy Clayton, 757-446-2377, cindy.clayton@pilotonline.com

Original Page: http://hamptonroads.com/node/634334

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Written by vaphc

March 23, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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