The Auburn Oaks are, beyond any shadow of doubt, a source of pride for the Auburn Family. Standing tall at Magnolia Avenue and College Street, two trees on the corner have represented the spirit that is not afraid for decades upon decades.
And it appears, this time, the current trees may for many more.
University Arborist Alex Hedgepath recently expressed confidence in the overall health of the two trees with root development continuing to occur and strength shown in the wake of rollings throughout the 2017-18 football season.
“Both oak canopies are in fair condition,” Hedgepath said. “Each tree has some tip dieback in the upper fourth of the canopy, but the leaves that have pushed out have strong color and shoot elongation has also been encouraging.”
Members of the Auburn Family are well aware of the recent tumultuous past of the Auburn Oaks.
In February 2011, the original Toomer’s oaks were poisoned following the Tigers narrowly defeating the University of Alabama 28-27.
The trees were replaced four years later on Valentine’s Day 2015. Less than five months later, the Magnolia Avenue oak was replaced after not showing signs of growth or developing a healthy root system or canopy.
About two years later, February 2017, both trees again were replaced after the Magnolia oak was burned following the Tigers defeating LSU in September 2016 and the College Street oak failed to become established in its new home.
While making a full prediction on the trees’ future isn’t possible after spending a bit more than a year in their new homes, Hedgepath has seen positive development in the oaks while monitoring them throughout the year.
“Leaf color has been good,” he said, “and root development continues to show promise as diameter of feeder roots have grown and perimeter roots continue to elongate.
“Though the root development has been vigorous, they are still very small and subject to breaking under even slight compaction. These trees will continue to show stress as they adapt to their new setting this year and in the next few years.”
In short, they are doing pretty well but will be continuously monitored for the near future.
As the Auburn Oaks become more settled in their homes, expect more greenery and growth from the two. Their importance in providing a defining image of Auburn University and the Plains is nationally recognized, and their meaning to the Auburn Family is uncanny.
“We’re expecting a busy year for both oaks, but I’m confident they will continue to show signs of establishment to their new home,” Hedgepath said.