The 300-400-year-old oak tree at the former Pat’s Hall, now Providence Hall private school, is in need of funds to help secure its survival and continue the many memories people have under its branches.
Kevin Spraggins, co-founder of Providence Hall, said the tree is severely stressed due to a number of factors.
“What’s been leading this decline is simply stress, lack of nutrients and the concrete around the tree suffocating it,” Spraggins said. “It didn’t totally shed leaves and isn’t growing, so it’s in a steep decline right now and is just trying to survive.”
A particular big blow to the tree, Spraggins said, was when a septic tank was removed in 2012, the tree lost a food source and nutrients.
Arborist Don Gardiner, 2014 Texas arborist of the year, and Lee Evans, owner of Certified Arbor Care, were both brought in to monitor the ancient tree. Spraggins said the arborists believe that it is not a lost cause but action must be taken quickly.
“This needs to be done this summer. We kind of had a wet spring, but we can’t let the tree keep going like it is,” Spraggins said. “It needs to be done; if we wait until August, then it will be too late.”
The cost of the project is estimated at $25,000.
Saving the tree will begin with the removal of the concrete around the tree and the concrete wall so that the tree can breathe. This has to be done by hand in order to not damage the tree further. Then, air space organic matter and root stimulator will be injected into the tree to improve the root growth. Mulch and fertilizer will also be added to the tree and Spraggins said he is working with the City of Fredericksburg Public Works, Utilities and Engineering Department to get organic matter from the wastewater plant for added nutrients for the tree and also plans to install a drip irrigation system.
“We can’t go through another season, the tree won’t make it,” Spraggins said. “It’ll take a few weeks total to get the project done and we expect it to cost $25,000.”
The changes won’t affect the hall next to the tree in any way, Spraggins added.
“We still want it to be used for events. We just want to take out the first two rings of concrete, it won’t change much of the look,” Spraggins said.
Those interested in helping the cause and donating to the project can visit www.gofundme.com/TheOldOakTree. Additionally, donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 2289, Fredericksburg, TX 78624 or by calling Providence Hall private school at 830-998-7411.
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