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Community works to replant dying dogwood population

10:54 PM, Dec 3, 2011   |    comments
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Dogwood trees draw thousands of people to tour the trails in Knoxville during the annual spring festival. But with the native East Tennessee tree in decline people across the county spent the day outside Saturday to make sure that tradition stays alive.

"I think this is part of our heritage and it's just beautiful and uplifting in the spring," said Karen Van Rij, a Knox County Library branch manager.

The tradition of touring the trails started more than 50 years ago. The lifespan of a dogwood is 50-75 years, meaning the trees in Knoxville are reaching the end of their lifetime.

"Many of the trees around Knoxville you'll see in various states of decline," said Knox County Extension Director Neal Denton.

Denton said the age is only part of their decline. Disease and insects have also gotten to the trees.

The community doesn't want to see its tradition end. Saturday, groups all across Knoxville planted thousands of dogwoods to replenish the population.

"It's just wonderful to add them everywhere we can since we've lost so many in the past few years," said Van Rij.

Knoxville college planted fifty trees in their front lawn. Knox County Library branches across the county added 125 new trees to their campuses.

Denton said now is the time for everyone to do their replanting, when the trees are dormant.

"It takes a while to grow a dogwood. They're a fairly slow growing tree especially to get the big blooms that we like to see," he said.


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