Cary Tree Archive Celebrates Anniversary with New Additions

Cary, NC — A land-reclamation project called the Cary Tree Archive hit its one year anniversary on Monday, September 28, 2020.

Creating a Habitat Safe from Future Development

The 7.5-acre project is separated into a pollinator garden, a fruit and nut orchard, Longleaf Pine Savannas, and a children’s play area.

The archive project will transform seven and a half acres from a fielded grassy area to a thriving forest filled with native, old-growth species.

Located across SW Cary Parkway from the Taylor Family YMCA, the land is owned by the Parkway Community homeowners association, and any development of this acreage is prohibited. The Cary Tree Archive has been certified as a Wildlife Habitat by the National & North Carolina Wildlife Federations and is entirely planted and maintained by volunteers.

Organizers of the archive consider it to be the most ambitious land-restoration project in the Piedmont.

A segment of the paved White Oak Greenway, owned by the Town of Cary, runs through the archive land as well as White Oak Creek. This greenway segment is also part of the East Coast Greenway a path that will span 3,000 miles when finished, from Maine to Florida.

What’s Being Planted

An estimated 425 native plants will be installed in the archive with preference given to historic or notable tress. These include the Davie Poplar, Angel Oak, Liberty Tree, and Wye Oak. Other favorites for the archive are the tree species under siege like the Hemlocks, Elms, and Chestnuts. Also on the docket of plantings are species of tree that have become endangered — the Dawn Redwood, Longleaf Pine, and the Ben Franklin Tree (Franklinia alatamaha).

Plantings that have taken place throughout the archive’s first year have been carried out by various volunteer groups and by companies who are concerned for the environment.

The very first planting in September 2019 included six Bald Cyress trees and several oak and maple seedlings. Since then, over a dozen plantings have taken place. The latest was on Sunday, September 27, 2020, as community members came together for the final planting of the archive’s 3,150 square foot pollinator garden. The garden, built under the direction of Dr. Richard Carroll, received the North Carolina Native Plant Society’s prestigious B. W. Wells Stewardship Award.

This milestone represents the end of one phase of the garden’s progress, which will, once completed, contribute to the garden’s anticipated 9,000 square feet. It will be filled with native plants that sustain native birds, butterflies, bees and other critical wildlife.

Visit, Volunteer & Learn More on the Archive

Artist’s rendering of the Cary Tree Archive, representing what it will look like in the future.

Read more on the old growth species that have been planted, the importance of the Longleaf Pine Savannas, and the native fruit and nut orchard that are underway on the Cary Tree Archive website.

The Archive has enjoyed tremendous support from the community, the Town of Cary and from the business and non-profit sector. For those wanting to get involved, contact the man behind it all, George McDowell.

To find and visit the archive, there are specific instructions on where to park and a map on the archive’s access webpage.

Story by Ashley Kairis. Information provided by George McDowell. Planting photos by Lindsey Chester, others from the Cary Tree Archive website.

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4 replies
  1. Richard Carroll
    Richard Carroll says:

    Congratulations to George McDowell! George is a visionary and optimist taking direct citizen action to demonstrate that ecosystem restoration is indeed feasible. His vision has been adopted by the Parkway HOA and the many volunteers eager to be a part of this positive effort. Through George’s persistence, this vision is becoming reality and the hope is that it will inspire many more tree plantings and tree conservation throughout the area, from backyards to a thriving Urban Forest! Thank you George!

  2. Marina Kelly
    Marina Kelly says:

    I live in the Parkway area of Cary and take daily walks to MacCarthur Park and noticed the Cary Tree Archive. I’ve also heard about the pollinator garden being planted. I am an avid gardener and would like to discuss planting a ‘fig’ tree that came from my parent’s homeland, Cyprus in the Mediterranean. My grandmother brought over the cuttings when she immigrated to America. These are delicious large green figs with red interior and I have 3 trees started from cuttings. Is there someone I can talk to about possibly adding one of our fig trees to the Cary Tree Archive. I can be reached by my email above or by calling me at 919-889-8204.
    Thank you,
    Marina Kelly

  3. George McDowell
    George McDowell says:

    Dear Marina,

    Thank you for your wonderful offer! I’m the Archivist, and am informed and directed [in addition to the HoA Board] by an informal group of advisers on what can and cannot be planted. The Archive has been designed as a native tree and plant area in which no poisonous or other non-organic fertilizers or pesticides are allowed to be used. We have received recognition and certification from the NC Native Plant Society for both our plan and our native plantings to date.

    I have a fig tree on my personal property. The butterflies and bees love it and it’s quite beautiful. But I’ve not been able to discover a fig-tree species that would be deemed native, and thus plantable in the Archive under existing constraints.

    Nevertheless, I’d be willing to work with you to see if we can persuade the advisers to grant a one-time exemption for your fig tree, and to ask the NC Native Plant Society not to revoke our certification if we do plant it. The most vociferous advisor insisting on native plants is Dr. Richard Carroll who, when consulted on a species, gets all red in the face and stomps his feet if it is not native. But Richard is also a compassionate man, and my sense is that you and I would have a reasonable chance of persuading him that the very important history of the fig and its progenitors, and the fact that it was proposed and offered by a Cary resident and frequent greenway user, would merit an exception.

    In any event, thank you for your VERY kind and meaningful offer. Richard and I will be at the Longleaf savanna in the Archive on Monday, Oct. 26 at 5:00 pm, assisting Cub Scout pack members in planting grassy-stage Longleafs and a direct descendant of the Oklahoma City Bombing Survivor Tree. Please come by and we’ll begin making our case for planting the fig. I have a good feeling. If not convenient, contact me when it is.

    Thank you VERY much.

    ~George McDowell
    [email protected]

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