The Most Hated Tree in San Angelo
The famous San Angelo Water Lily Collection is in trouble because a giant Live Oak tree’s roots are piercing the walls of the main lily pool at Civic League Park, 2 S. Park St. Proponents of the International Water Lily Collection are enraged that nothing is being done about that tree.
Larry Jolley, a local Realtor and avid supporter of the Water Lily Collection by Ken Landon, describes the majestic Oak as a “vandal” and illegitimate, being “planted there by a squirrel burying an acorn.”
The tree, located along the northern wall to the pool area of the Water Lily Collection’s home, is approximately 50 years old according to Tommy Olive of Olive’s Nursery. Olive doesn’t like the tree either.
“I am convinced God made nature for us. We are to take care of it. But it is to serve us, for food, for structure, for beauty,” Olive said. The tree, he agreed, is just an acorn, and not living up to its obligations serving San Angelo, since it’s endangering the continued success of the Water Lily Collection display this year.
Landon wrote in an email that, ‘Unfortunately its removal has been deferred and the once smaller tree has become a behemoth, taking from and overriding everything in the park, resulting in pool #2 being practically useless. This pool was built in 2000 by the Park's Department and funded by the San Angelo Health Foundation and is an integral part of the display.”
At the location, pool #2, almost adjacent to the tree, is drained and will not be utilized in this year’s display if the tree stands.
City Operations Director Shane Kelton, who oversees the Parks and Recreation Department, said that he couldn’t cut the tree down without a go-ahead from City Council. “Several years ago, and several councils ago, it was quite a controversial issue and the council decided to keep the tree until another planned lily pond [yet to be built] is constructed,” he said. So, according to Kelton, the tree stays for now based upon the last instruction to city staff.
According to Jolley, the San Angelo Garden Club stands ready to gift the city a pavilion and to plant replacement trees far away from the lily ponds.
But right now, the city seems stuck and unable to act because of a previous Council who stopped the tree’s removal a long time ago.
The impact of the tree is treacherous, said Landon’s assistant and fellow Lily collector Tim Davis of Houston. Davis makes frequent trips to San Angelo supplying additional lily types to Landon for the display and maintains Landon’s website.
Davis said that within the next 30 days, Landon and company will need to start cleaning the pools and prepping the displays in the pools that are underneath the tree. If the city decides to cut down the tree when the lilies are already placed, it will spread unwanted debris into the pools, causing much more work and cleanup. And pool #2 will remain empty.
For now though, the hated tree stands, water lilies be damned.
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