During June of 1988, a tornado touched down briefly on the front lawn of Belmont Hall in Smyrna, Delaware. The historic house and grounds had recently come under the care of Delaware State Museums, soon to be renovated for use as a conference center. Until that June, the house had been totally hidden from view of passersby on Rt. 13. The resulting storm damage to the trees on the front lawn was extensive. Approximately 105 mature specimen trees were lost that June. Ever since that time, we have been working to repair the damage to the landscape by reforesting the area.
A landscape master plan was developed for the site in 1993 and an area was set aside on the property in which to grow new trees. The trees from this nursery area would then be used to reforest the site. Bareroot trees (182 seedlings) of many native varieties were planted in April of 1993, as an Arbor day activity. Cub Scout pact #296 and volunteers from Delaware State Museums helped with this initial tree planting effort. The trees grew and grew!
Meanwhile, in May of 1997, Boy Scout Troop #296 from Smyrna assisted by Museums’ staff, planted 22 evergreens on the front lawn. These were balled and burlaped trees of a larger size than the bareroot plants initially installed in the tree nursery. They made an instant impact on the front lawn.
By the spring of 2001, some of the trees in the nursery were big enough to be moved out onto the front lawn. A local contractor moved 9 of the largest trees to new locations on the front lawn with a 50″ tree spade.
Once again, in the spring of 2002, we moved another 9 large trees onto the front lawn from our nursery area. The remaining trees are now spaced far enough apart that they can continue to grow in their present locations and provide a buffer planting for us on the north side of the property. We have three trees that remain in the nursery to be transplanted. They will have to wait until the fall and will require a 90″ tree spade for their trip to their new home.
At the present time, we have planted 48 trees on the front lawn of Belmont Hall and many other trees elsewhere on the site. We have replaced the original 105 trees lost in the 1988 tornado and are on our way to reforesting an important Smyrna landmark!