Q: We recently moved into our home in Walton County, with a 2.4 acre wooded lot. In the middle of these woods we have discovered a beautiful dogwood tree that is now in bloom. As best we can estimate this tree is forty feet tall and the tree trunk is forty three inches around. I have never seen a dogwood tree that would come close to being this large and tall. Do you have an explanation for this unusually large tree?
A: I attribute my consistent good health to eighteen years of oatmeal for breakfast. My mother simply made a big pot of the viscous stuff each morning and doled it out in big glops to the bowls of her five children. We got brown sugar, butter and perhaps a dusting of corn flakes to embellish it but no other choices. “It’ll stick to your ribs ‘til lunch!” she exhorted.
She was right. . . but I still can’t eat oatmeal.
Your dogwood got big because it was fed right when it was young. In the woods, it grew in partial shade so summer droughts didn’t parch it. A thick layer of leaf litter allowed the tree’s roots to gather the nourishment it needed. No lawn mowers wounded its trunk, no cars parked in its shade. It was a perfect life for a tree and you are lucky to be able to protect it.
The Georgia Forestry Commission keeps a registry of champion-sized trees. The scoring is based on the height, width and trunk circumference of the tree. Grab a tape measure, hike back to visit your arboreal visitor and compare it to the current champion in Camilla: fifty three feet high, fifty seven feet wide and five feet around the trunk !