One of the most beautiful, iconic vistas in Citrus County took root in the 1880s, and today, the Avenue of the Oaks on County Road 48 in Floral City is a state-protected canopy.
However, during the past 130-plus years, these mighty Southern live oaks have taken a beating, Deb Pedone, procurement consultant for Paff Tree Service, told members and guests of the Floral City Garden Club Friday.
“These poor trees — Hurricane Irma did a number on them, and we’ve had three episodes of severe drought in the last five years in this area, plus wildfires in the spring of 2017 affected these trees tremendously,” she said.
After an evaluation survey was completed last year, the county has approved the replacement of five trees, which Paff Tree Service will plant sometime between December and February, depending on the temperature — Pedone said it needs to be cold out for planting.
Each tree costs $1,750, which includes the purchase price, planting and watering for three months. The county is paying for three trees, the Floral City Garden Club has raised money to buy one tree and the Floral City Heritage Council is paying for the fifth tree.
The replacement trees are currently being grown in Brooksville will be about 4 years old when planted.
“Originally, there were about 180 trees planted in 1884 on Orange Avenue and Aroostook, but now there are 120,” said Susie Metcalfe, garden club president.
Pedone said three trees are currently at risk.
“We’re watching them carefully,” she said. “It’s very important that these trees survive, because they’re centuries old and we don’t want to lose them if they’re in a position to live.”