Not long ago, an elm tree decided, on its own, to take root and grow in my brother’s garden-y back yard.
This, despite Dutch Elm disease, a global virus that obliterated 200 years of elms in 60 years (1930-1990). My hometown of Elmhurst Il lost its share of the 58 million dead among America’s 78 million; still, it retains more than Great Britain, which once enjoyed the shade of 30 million, Now it is home to 100.
Back when the disease raged, stewards did their best. At first, they did all the wrong things: burning, spraying bugs, cutting down. Finally, it was learned the virus spread from roots to crown. Treating the roots saved trees and new species with immunity to Dutch Elm are being developed.
It takes a long time to grow a tree and those gone from boulevards, streets, creek banks and lanes can’t be duplicated. But, in spring, elm trees are at their most cheerful and the young one in my brother’s garden-y back yard looks determined to remember.