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Norfolk Botanical Garden honors young scholars at Rosemont with tree

The Academy of International Studies at Rosemont and Dennis Guerrero, former Young Scholar Student, participated in a tree planting ceremony on the campus, Friday, December 14, 2018.  The bald cypress, Taxodium distichum, was donated by Norfolk Botanical Garden (NBG) and honors the 2003-2005 Young Scholars Community Problem Solving Team who assisted NBG in researching the Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers who broke ground for the original Garden.

Hired in 1938, the 220 African American WPA workers were tasked with clearing land, and planting the Garden's first collection of azaleas, the beginnings of the beautiful Garden we cherish today. The Depression Era was a time of racial inequality and financial uncertainty, leaving the story of the WPA workers in historic obscurity. The Young Scholars, consisting of Elizabeth McLean and 14 students, helped to uncover the story of the workers, a history and heritage the Garden wishes to instill in future generations of visitors. In an effort to acknowledge their "groundbreaking" research, the Young Scholars were recognized during the Garden’s annual Garden Heritage Celebration as the "2018 Garden Ground-breakers".

What makes this particular bald cypress so special? The tree was grown from a seedling in the Mirror Lake Garden of Norfolk Botanical Garden. As one of the original landscaped areas of the Garden, Mirror Lake represents the lasting legacy of the WPA workers. Bald cypresses are very strong, have dense wood, and have the ability to weather storms better than many other trees, making them one of the longest live tree species on earth.

Special thanks goes to Clenise Platt, NBG Board Member, Elizabeth McLean, former Young Scholar Mentor/Teacher and Dorie Banks, principal of the Academy of International Studies at Rosemont for organizing a successful tree planting. 

NBG planting tree
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Contributed by Kelly Walsh, Norfolk Botanical Garden