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Tree lover undoes botanist’s work at Green Hill Cemetery

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graveyard greenhill entrance

The entrance to Green Hill Cemetery, 901 Wharton St., in Greensboro.

GREENSBORO — Attention, tree lovers of Greensboro:

The red ribbons recently placed on trees in Green Hill Cemetery are part of a plant inventory.

They do not, repeat, DO NOT indicate plans for tree removal.

Apparently, someone made that assumption this past weekend and removed some 300 ribbons from trees and shrubs placed there by a professional botanist who is donating his time to inventory the plants in this 52-acre cemetery.

“You would think that if somebody had a question, they would call and ask,” city cemetery supervisor Mike Moye said. “I’m not sure what they hoped to accomplish.”

According to a post on the Friends of Green Hill Cemetery Facebook page, the ribbons were found in a trash can with a note indicating that the person who took them down thought the trees were being tagged for removal.

The tags are actually part of a project with just the opposite intent: to inventory and identify some of the unique and valuable trees and shrubs on the cemetery grounds. Once the inventory is complete, the city will order permanent stainless steel name tags so that people walking through the garden will be able to identify the trees.

Green Hill is known for having a particularly rich diversity of trees, including many that are uncommon in the region.

“There were a lot he was just flabbergasted to find out there,” Moye said.

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The botanist conducting this volunteer inventory, who declined to provide his name for publication, is advising Moye and his staff on how they can prune and save some of the storm-damaged trees.

“The tags were on ones he’d already mapped, and he’d also marked some that were severely damaged by the storm,” Moye said. “These were specimen trees that he wanted to be saved.

“Unfortunately, two of the most unusual, a type of holly and a black pine, got killed in the ice storm.”

The botanist was trying to do what the tag-remover wanted, Moye said, a job that was of great benefit to the cemetery at no cost to the taxpayers.

“He’s really an expert, too,” Moye said. “He was so gracious to volunteer to do it. Now, he’s a little bit frustrated.”

Whoever removed the tags was thorough about it, searching out and trashing every single one.

“Some person wandering through probably would have pulled off a few and dropped them on the ground,” Moye said. “Whoever did it made a concerted effort to get them all.”

It took the botanist 12 or more hours to put them up. Now, he will have to start again.

Moye said he hopes to put up signs at the cemetery entrances to inform visitors what the ribbons represent.

“It wasn’t criminal activity,” Moye said. “The person probably had a heartfelt motive for doing it. It’s just disappointing.”

Contact Susan Ladd at (336) 373-7006, and follow @susankladd on Twitter.

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