America's Famous and Historic Trees: From George Washington's Tulip Poplar to Elvis Presley's Pin Oak

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9780618068913: America's Famous and Historic Trees: From George Washington's Tulip Poplar to Elvis Presley's Pin Oak
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Like many residents of Jacksonville, Florida, the Jeffrey Meyers family liked to picnic under the city's magnificent Treaty Live Oak. When their toddler handed them an acorn from the tree, Meyers, a nurseryman, planted it in their back yard.
That acorn was the inspiration for an immensely popular project, America's Famous & Historic Trees, sponsored by American Forests, the country's oldest nonprofit conservation organization. Through this program, Meyers and his volunteers have collected seeds from more than a thousand different historic trees, which are grown to sapling size in the project's nursery. The descendants of these famous trees have been planted on the grounds of state capitols, in schoolyards, and in back yards across the country. In this fascinating book, Meyers tells the stories of seventeen historic trees, describes their role in America's history, and tells how their seeds were collected and their offspring propagated. For readers who want to grow a replica of an important tree themselves, each chapter contains instructions for planting the seeds of that particular species.
Among the trees in this book are the Indian Marker Pecan, dating back to the 1600s, when Comanche warriers would mark a good camping spot by tying a young pecan tree to the ground. At the other end of the time line is the Moon Sycamore, grown from seeds that traveled to the moon in 1971 on Apollo 14.
Trees associated with presidents are George Washington's Tulip Poplar, Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address Honey Locust, Andrew Jackson's Southern Magnolia (planted at the White House in memory of his wife), and John F. Kennedy's Post Oak, which grows beside his grave at Arlington National Cemetery. Most of the original trees still stand, but in some cases all that remains of their place in history are the seeds propagated by Meyers and his group. These include the last Johnny Appleseed Rambo Apple tree and the last Lewis and Clark Cottonwood.

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Review:

Nurseryman Jeffrey Meyer founded the Famous and Historic Trees Project as a way of preserving and propagating the past. The project began after his son came to him with an acorn fallen from Jacksonville, Florida's "Treaty Live Oak"--a vast old tree growing in the spot where the Timucuan tribe sat for tribal councils. Meyer took the acorn home and planted it in his backyard. "From that little acorn also germinated the idea of growing descendants of important trees," he notes.

America's Famous and Historic Trees tells the stories of various trees that Meyer and his cohorts rescued or propagated: oftentimes, when trees were going to be cut down, he and his workers headed off the bulldozers, rescuing the tree with their massive tree hoe. Other trees--like the Indian Marker Pecan in southeast Dallas--were propagated before they died. Some of the ancestor trees still stand in their historic places--like Elvis Presley's Pin Oaks on the grounds of Graceland. Chapters here follow the trials and tribulations of specific trees, and end with "how to propagate" instructions for a wide variety of species: sycamore, cottonwood, bur oak, magnolia. This book is not about photographs--what images are included are simply of big trees alongside houses or suburban developments, awkward and misplaced, like an elegant old man in a multiplex. Meyer hopes to inspire his readers to plant and nurture forests that will outlive them, and to rescue trees from the unknown forces of the future by revering their pasts. --Emily White

From the Back Cover:

"Jeff Meyer makes the act of growing a tree irresistible, with the help of the images and stories of some of this country's most wonderful old specimens. For yourself, your children, your earth, read this book and grow some trees!" –Don Henley, recording artist and founder for the Walden Woods Project

"When I was growing up, my grandmother told me of a saying she attributed to Johnny Appleseed: 'Great is the person who plants a tree, knowing he will need to sit in its shade.' I hope after reading this book, you will be inspired to plant a tree." –Dr. Robert D. Ballard, author and explorer

"Jeff Meyer is the twenty-first century's own Johnny Appleseed. He has a huge, infectious love of trees, and his passion for the preservation of our historical legacy through trees is a tremendous inspiration." –Cherie Lucks, great-great-grandniece of John Chapman, a.k.a. Johnny Appleseed

"I applaud this book and the efforts of American Forests in sharing the many stories of trees that have been witness to historical periods in America." –Dale Chihuly, renowned glass artist

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