Tree Campus

Our Roots, Our Story

Cherry blossoms and spring midterms hit campus about the same time, giving students something peaceful to look at between study sessions at the Hurley Convergence Center. (Photo by Norm Shafer)

By Laura Moyer The story of trees on the University of Mary Washington campus starts with the Brompton Oak – the Civil War “witness tree” famously photographed in 1864 as Union soldiers recovered beneath its branches. The venerable white oak has been thoroughly fussed over. It’s protected from lightning, its limbs are cabled for stability, and the lawn above its roots is roped off during public events. Decades ago, some well-intentioned souls even filled its hollow spaces with concrete. Every Mary Washington president who’s lived at Brompton, from Morgan Combs to Troy Paino, has gazed on the tree with admiration and maybe a bit of anxiety. For the past 30 years, Director of Landscape and Grounds Joni Wilson ’00 has shared those feelings as the person chiefly responsible for the Brompton Oak. She’s joking – or maybe not – when she says that if the oak died “I’d be gluing leaves onto it.”  But she’s been equally protective of other Mary Washington trees, from the magnificent willow … [Read more...]