Until recently, however, perhaps no one else knew just how impressive the Village Sentinel live oak tree is.
The centuries-old heritage tree standing within Waycross, Georgia’s Baptist Village retirement community outlives many other live oaks once planted along the eastern seaboard for their dense, hardwood and long limbs used for shipbuilding.
Based on the live oak’s tendency to portray false growth rings, it’s difficult to estimate the age of the Village Sentinel. But District Manager Chris Heim, Davey’s Atlanta residential tree services, estimates it to be at least 450 years old.
“It’s the second largest live oak tree in the country,” he says.
And he happens to know the tree very well. Heim has been involved with the Village Sentinel’s care for more than 30 years.
Also a member of the Georgia Urban Forestry Council (GUFC), Heim noticed the organization’s list of important trees in an e-newsletter but didn’t see the Village Sentinel live oak included. Because Heim has nothing but good things to say about the “perfect” Village Sentinel, he completed its application with the Georgia Landmark and Historic Tree Register.
“It’s rewarding to work on the tree for its uniqueness, history, age, and size,” Heim explains. “The Village Sentinel is so much larger than trees we normally deal with. We are awfully proud to be trusted with the care of this specimen.”
Although the entire retirement community campus is well-maintained, it’s clear the Village Sentinel is the highlight of the area. Now a “Landmark” tree, the Village Sentinel continues its legacy as an integral part of the Waycross community.
“I commend the ownership at Baptist Village for their dedicated commitment to preserve this tree,” Heim says.
Most recently, Davey’s Atlanta tree services have provided the tree with updated cables and lightning protection as needed, as well as fertilization and pruning every two years.