Tanner Andrews mug

Tanner Andrews

Once, there was a poet. I think the name was Joyce Kilmer. The poem started something like this:

I think that I shall never see a tree as pricey as this be.

A tree whose roots are to be dressed in soil expensive to be pressed.

Do not quote me on the exact text of the poem, but I think I am pretty close.

The reason I mention it is that the City of DeLand is spending $434,691.60 replacing the trees along West Indiana Avenue. This short stretch of brick street runs between the county building and the old courthouse. The old trees have gone out of style.

In the 1990s, the style was Drake elms. Mr. Drake must have been one great salesman, because many governments bought them. The advantage was that they could buy them from vendors at high prices. Things like pecans or hickory-nut trees grow from seeds, providing few vendor-gratuity opportunities.

Now, Mr. Drake is nowhere to be found. Instead, the city is planting live oaks, magnolias and Japanese blueberry trees. That should work out about as you would expect.

I love live oaks. Out in fields and even in larger yards, they work well. The limbs spread, often reaching back down to the ground to practically start new trees. Of course, when this happens along a brick street, your results may vary.

Magnolias are nice, too. However, they have flowers and magnolia cones, which require regular cleaning. When I was a kid, we would rake the leaves and throw magnolia cones at each other. Today, that is probably a felony.

While I am not familiar with Japanese blueberries, Google knows about them. Vendors say that the trees are lovely, slow-growing, and tolerant of most conditions. They do well around patios, bearing plentiful fruit, which birds enjoy. Unfortunately, the fruits, while larger than typical blueberries, are inedible.

The good news for all of these trees is that it should be years before problems appear. Spreading oak limbs and roots, magnolia cones, even the fruits on the Japanese blueberries ought not occur for several years.

There is a certain familiarity to this. Back in the 1990s, during the two most-recent times they redid Indiana Avenue, the Drake elms were expected to be fine for a while. And, because they are politicians, we can guess what the city commissioners are thinking — by the time there is another problem, they should be long gone and enjoying pensions.

— Andrews is a DeLand-area attorney and a longtime government critic. For purposes of the column, he finds it convenient that there is so much government to criticize.