This past December, Carilion offered Roanoke Parks and Recreation the opportunity to save 31 Sweet Bay Magnolia trees ahead of a construction job on their property at Carilion Riverside. Requests for transplanting are very rare, and they’re often unsuccessful. “The plant mortality rate can be quite high,” Bill West, the city’s Urban Forestry Coordinator, said. “There are several factors that play into such an operation. There’s a risk of damage in the removal, transporting, and then replanting of the tree. The timing is also very important.” Luckily for West and his team, the best time to transplant happens to be during the winter season.
Over a two-day span, Roanoke’s Urban Forestry crews, with assistance from the Parks Landscape crews, moved the established trees from Carilion Riverside to new locations in Eureka, Preston, and Highland parks. Sweet Bay Magnolias are ornamental landscape trees with creamy white flowers that bloom in late spring. In addition to these attractive, fragrant flowers, their fruit provides food for birds and other wildlife.
Because of the urban foresters’ expertise and extreme care, they successfully relocated all 31 trees. West expects the trees to beautify these prominent public spaces for many years to come.
Roanoke’s Urban Forestry Department
Unlike many cities its size, Roanoke is home to 158 types of trees that span more than 13,146 acres of tree canopy. Roanoke earned the Tree City USA designation as a result of its commitment to and care of its trees. Roanoke Parks and Recreation’s Urban Forestry team provides regular maintenance based on staff observations or by citizen request.
To learn more about the Urban Forestry Department, report a tree concern, or plant a tree, please click here.