Elm trees returning to UD Green
Project to restore historic look of campus center
Majestic elm trees will soon return to the University of Delaware’s North Green, years after most of the university’s original elm trees fell victim to disease.
The elms will replace nine trees that were felled last month to allow for the replacement of steam lines under The Green.
“The removal of the trees was necessary to replace the steam lines, but we are also viewing this as an opportunity to restore historical components to campus by using an elm-disease resistant cultivar that will most closely resemble the American elm,” UD spokesman Peter Bothum said in an emailed statement.
American elms were a focal point of the original layout of The Green – formerly called The Mall – which was designed by landscape architect Marian Coffin in 1919. Though there were once more than 160 elms at UD, over the years, most had to be cut down due to Dutch elm disease, which is transmitted by beetles.
The elms were replaced with Japanese zelkova trees, which were thought to look similar to the elms, but the results were disappointing because the zelkovas did not create the arching effect most people associate with the expansive canopy of a large American elm, according to Sue Wyndham, UD’s current landscape planner.
The current replacement project began in early June, and crews have closed off The Green between Main Street and Delaware Avenue, dug up most of the ground and cut down nine trees. Only two remaining elms were saved.
UD will be replacing a failed steam line, and the project is slated to be finished by late August, in time for students to move in.
After the steam line is in, workers will plant 14 to 16 Princeton elms, which are less susceptible to disease.
“The replacement of these trees, however, provides a wonderful opportunity to restore the trees planted in this area to the original design intent,” Wyndham said in a statement.
Still, though, returning students used to seeing tall trees providing shade on the North Green may find the scene jarring. The new trees will eventually grow up to 60 feet tall, but will take at least a decade to reach full height.
Workers install new steam pipes under the University of Delaware Green. Most of the existing trees had to be cut down to make way for the project, but they will be replaced by elm trees.