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Team effort saves century-old oak tree next to new Greystone plastic surgery and spa

Birmingham News

Century old oak tree at Greystone Cosmetic Center
A team of architects, landscape architects, arborist and contractors collaborated to save the century-old oak tree near the new home of Dr. William Hedden's plastic surgery center and spa in Greystone

A century-old white oak tree stands a few yards away from construction going on in Hoover's Greystone neighborhood.

The majestic tree with the large canopy is the center of attention as a team of contractors, architects, landscape architects and an arborist have taken steps to preserve it, while Dr. William Hedden's new plastic surgery center and spa facility off Hugh Daniel Drive takes shape.

During a time when its common for old trees to be clear-cut to make room for the new, Colin Conner, Hoover's city forester, applauds the efforts that have been undertaken to save this oak.

"It is an incredible thing," Conner said. "It seems to be a standard practice for these types of trees to come down and new trees to be planted."

The building, which features a Spanish-style facade with Mediterranean details, was planned with saving the tree in mind, said Aimee Reese, a landscape architect with Holcombe Norton Partners.

Reese said it has really taken a team approach to save the tree. TurnerBatson Architects designed the building, which sits near Butterfly Lake near Hedden's existing office. Johnson-Kreis is the general contractor.

"It's a great example of showing people that a tree really can give context to architecture," Reese said. "It makes the architecture feel like it belongs to the site."

John Ingle, a certified arborist and state-licensed tree surgeon called in to examine the tree, said it is at least 100 years old. He said the tree not only adds to the visual attractiveness of the property, but provides environmental benefits such as absorbing stormwater and converting carbon dioxide to oxygen.

"It would be a shame for that tree to die," Ingle said. "It's priceless."

Reese acknowledges that saving a tree poses a lot more of a commitment than what many property owners and developers are willing to undertake.

It's not uncommon for trees to be saved then harmed when a parking lot is put in, killing tree roots, Reese and Ingle said.

Protective measures have been taken to make sure the tree's roots are not disturbed and to make sure the tree continues to thrive, Reese said. Ingle was to put reviver in the tree's soil this week to revive its roots.

Reese said no grading will occur in the area of the tree known as the drip line. Irrigation will be installed and mulch will be placed underneath, she said.

"We're going to try and replicate the natural environment," Reese said. "The tree can't be replaced."

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