Nothing Gold Can Stay: Tree Diversity Matters!

March 1, 2018 Panayoti Kelaidis , Senior Curator & Director of Outreach

Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas)

Right this minute, despite the cold snaps of recent days, the glorious Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas) at Denver Botanic Gardens’ Romantic Gardens is shimmering with golden glory. It reminds me of Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, and the tree has almost as rich and lurid a history as the painting looted by Nazis and featured in a recent movie (the painting, not the tree).

Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas) in the Romantic Gardens

What fascinates me about this tree is that it is so dazzling in bloom, so attractive all year in habit, leaf and bark, with blazing fall color. I only know of one other in a garden in Denver. We need to talk tree diversity, folks! The elms all go with Dutch elm disease, and we plant way too many ash trees. Now the Emerald Ash Borer is dooming these. What monoculture will we trot out to replace the millions that will come down, that will itself succumb? The cost for removing ashes may tally in the billions of dollars just for the state of Colorado. As the joke goes, if you think education is expensive, try ignorance!

5th Tree Diversity Symposium 2018

Thursday, March 15 8:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.

For five years the issues of street trees—what works, what doesn’t and what to do next—has been the subject of a day long series of incredible talks by tree experts from across the Continent (and the best locals too!) right here at Denver Botanic Gardens. A large percentage of Denver’s professional arborists attend regularly, yet homeowners can benefit enormously from the day’s presentations. Everyone says they love trees, but why then do we keep planting the same old, same old?

This year four stellar speakers—two from Arboreta in the Midwest and two from Colorado—will bring the latest information on issues we all face: what to pick, how to site, how to properly maintain these trees and what does the future hold for our tattered urban forest?

As I drive back and forth to the Gardens to work, I often marvel at Denver’s amazing urban tree forest: so many trees! And practically all of them a deliberate and conscious act on the part of a homeowner or landscape professional. These trees provide us oxygen, clean our air, lower temperatures dramatically (saving incalculably on air conditioning), provide food and habitat for pollinators and havens for birds. They suck up excess rain to help mitigate flooding. They stand, silent sentinels, like guardian angels watching us scurry by. We all say we love trees: we can do much better. Do sign up!

Nothing Gold Can Stay Robert Frost, 1874 - 1963

Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.


Tree Diversity Conference Speakers and Lecture Topics

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