Routine Annual Tree Removals to Begin in January

December 22, 2021:

Every fall the Botanic Garden assesses both the physical condition and the content of the arboretum collections. For this assessment, staff curators and arborists determine if any arboretum trees are at the end of their healthy life, or if species pose an ecological threat to native habitats. As part of this routine collection care, the Botanic Garden of Smith College, in conjunction with the Smith College Grounds Department, will begin the annual task of removing select trees from campus in January.

Almost all of the tree removals this year are linked to age and disease-related decline of tree health. Prominent trees scheduled for removal include mature maples near Haven House, Chase House, and Sessions Annex; a notable red oak west of Seelye Hall; a red buckeye near Washburn; and a spruce on the south-side of Mendenhall that has outgrown the space. 

Additionally, this year our arborist team will be ending a 12-year labor of love that started when the roots of an European hornbeam on Green Street were badly damaged during a construction project. Landscape Curator John Berryhill says, “Immediately after construction, the outer third of the canopy died and it was presumed we would have to remove it. In the years that followed, our arborists experimented with canopy retrenchment pruning - a size-reduction technique of reducing outer failing branches to encourage new growth  -  and we were able to give this old friend more than an extra decade of life. Sadly, it is decaying at its core and we will not be able to preserve it further.”

Botanic Garden Director, Tim Johnson, adds that “Removing trees with dignity and doing so safely is an unfortunate, but essential piece of our work.” The silver lining in these losses is that the Botanic Garden will be able to develop the collection further when planting takes place in the spring. In 2021, over 50 new trees were planted on the Smith College campus.For additional information please contact the Botanic Garden of Smith College at