I had only visited New York City once prior to 2001, and not any since that day on September 11, 2001, at least not so far. But recently I was sent photos from my family who did live on Long Island and after it opened, visited the 9/11 Memorial. I wrote this as my tribute; researching off the 20 plus photos I was kindly sent.
Now, more than 10 years later at the New York City site, our country has built a permanent memorial. As a professional gardener, I appreciate the nob to incorporating a green landscape. I think the canopy of trees will feel safe, where one could be in quiet reflection.
Eventually, the branches of approximately 400 swamp white oaks (Quercus bicolor) will weave themselves into a shady space, making it a cool place even at the height of an urban summer. The matured trees will make a dramatic statement growing up to 60 feet tall. Quercus bicolor is a large specimen for a city street but of all the oaks, this species has demonstrated its tolerance for the challenges living in the shadows of steel, glass and concrete that marks urban life.
The Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana), famously called the Survivor Tree, is also in residence. After growing back from the brink, the varigations of its bark clearly depicts the before and after of the terrorist attack, a stark line of that horrendous day. The guard rail and padded wire pulleys are indicative of the extraordinary efforts horticulturists have put into keeping the Survivor Tree alive. Despite the generally short life expectancy of Pyrus calleryana trees, we all want to see this one thrive for as long possible. Plans to save the seeds and produce descendants from this tree are in the works.
What is a Pyrus Calleryana
Understanding a Pyrus calleryana provides testimony to just how much this single specimen epitomizes its label of “Survivor.” The very fast-growing characteristic of this species brings with it a tendency to grow difficult crotch angles and weak wooded branches, making it more susceptible to even simple storm damage.
Although Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’ was popularized by urban planners in the 1970s for streets and parks, including in New York City, I have not definitively discovered what the cultivar of the Survivor Tree is. Until new cultivars were bred, the Bradford Callery pear was favored for withstanding urban problems and makes it likely, that the Survivor Tree is a Bradford cultivar.
Now, the Survivor Tree is once again producing cool green heart-shaped leaves and a knock-out display of white spring flowers.
Sustainable Planting Bed
Landscapers, who make their living adding trees to urban settings, are challenged with creating a sustainable planting bed in which trees can subsist their entire life rather than dying from an unhealthy environment. Concrete sidewalks, water runoff and compacted soil in an overheated urban setting can easily make for irregular plant growth.
The Memorial Plaza project planners followed the LEED for New Construction Program guidelines by raising the floor of the plaza up approximately six feet. That move allowed landscapers to create a sustainable planting bed below; filling with healthy garden soil and mulch, correctly siting trees and a comprehensive irrigation system connected to underground channels that collect rainwater.
National 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center
The World Trade Center is a 16 acre site in New York City that includes the Memorial and Museum. It opened on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, which killed 2,977 people, who had come from 90 nations. Of that number, 400 people were those who ran to the disaster to help, they were the first responders.
The Memorial includes two massive pools set into the original impressions made by what was called the Twin Towers of the WTC. Surrounding the pools, the outer rim is capped with a series of bronze parapets inscribed with the names of the victims. The 30-foot drop of rushing water falls then descends into each pool’s center.
Garden memorials are often made to remember those we loved who are gone. Whether from simply leaving a bouquet of flowers or a flag at a headstone or building a large landscape, people may find peace from visiting these places. Gardeners find comfort in planting and maintaining such beds. For some, it is their way to stay gardening, and remembering in quiet peace.