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Heritage trees and Hampton

Our Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesdays group almost expects nice weather. It seems it never rains on Wednesday mornings, but it's hard to imagine a better day for a walk than last Wednesday. It was a little cool as we assembled, but strong winds the day before had cleared the skies. The visibility was excellent, and seemed appropriate because there was so much to see this morning. There was strong turnout of 39 walkers and two K-9 best friends to enjoy it. We have been walking to the Piedmont Parks Department's "Heritage Trees" in the city. This program recognizes distinctive trees in Piedmont's parks and open spaces. The prior two weeks we had gone to 11 of these 19 trees, and by going up Hampton Road we could see three more, as well as other interesting sights. The first interesting sight of the morning was the City's Highland-Guilford steps renovation project in the upper part of Piedmont Park. We went behind the Exedra past the Community Hall and Tea House to see the construction work with a backhoe digging away. This $155,000 project will replace the wooden railroad ties with concrete steps, and have landings and handrails. Rains delayed the project, but it's supposed to be finished in mid-March. Then we were off to the Hall Fenway via Highland, Sheridan, and Wildwood Avenues to see its grove of Heritage Tree European white birches. They are native to Europe and parts of Asia. As we emerged from the fenway we looked up Crocker Avenue to check on the progress of a garage being added to a 1906 Albert Farr-designed home. Work was underway again, but the rains had delayed it too. We crossed Crocker to get to Crocker Park, and checked on a tall sequoia that was struck by lightning in January and chopped in half. It looks alive in its stunted state. Some walkers thought it was fine, and should be left as is. Up Hampton Avenue we went to its corner with St. James Drive. There are some huge eucalyptus trees there, and it was suggested similar ones in Piedmont Park might be a Heritage Tree candidate. Based on some walkers' reactions, eucalyptus trees might be a tough sell. Next stop was Hampton Field. Towards the back, in front of the Piedmont Play School, are now leaf-less mulberry trees that were also suggested as possible Heritage Trees. Mulberries received a warmer response than eucalyptus. We crossed LaSalle Avenue, going between two white pillars and on the distinctive title inlay sidewalks that identified the early 20th Century St. James Woods Terrace neighborhood development, to start a climb of upper Hampton. We went up to the Hampton Triangle at Lexford Road. The morning's second Heritage tree, a large southern magnolia that is native to the southeastern United States, was there. It wasn't flowering yet, but still beautiful enough for the attached group picture. A little further up Hampton was another large Heritage southern magnolia at Huntleigh Avenue. Still further up Huntleigh were plum trees with white flowers, lining both sides of the street as far as we could see. We walked across Huntleigh to Lexford. Down Lexford, just before Hampton, we came to a unique, brick home built in 1939 in a storybook architecture style. It has a circular brick chimney, a wavy brick wall, a terracotta tile roof, and a maze made of bricks in the front yard. As we were admiring the home, Eric Tupper, the owner, drove up. He told us his children built the maze as a Covid project from the many bricks around the house. Eric also said the best part of the house is its radiant heating. We enjoyed this unusual house, but it was time to head back. We came to Hampton, took a left on La Salle, a right on St. James back to Hampton, and retraced our steps to the center of town. It was about a three and a half mile walk over a little more than 90 minutes with many interesting things to see on a clear Piedmont morning.


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