When a specular tree gets hit by lightning, many decisions need to be made. The 100-foot tulip poplar just outside the picture window at Hidden Oaks Nature Center suffered two lighting strikes which created an imminent danger to the building. Since this tree was the focal point of the woodland view plus a feeding station for flying squirrels and many species of birds, the loss was keenly felt by humans as well as wildlife neighbors.
Since the base of the tree was undamaged, the staff arranged for a ten-foot stump in order to make lemonade out of lemons. Chainsaw artist Andrew Mallon created a sketch of a collection of critters that have enjoyed the gifts of the tree over its 128-year lifespan. The new urban art will be the centerpiece of a learning station on a variety of natural woodland shelters. The carving will enable the tree to be enjoyed for the next 20 years. Due to its location near the building, the artwork will be easily accessible for visitors of all abilities.
Saturday, June 1 from 1 until 3 p.m., Hidden Oaks Nature Center will host an open house to raise $5000 to make this dream a reality. With the support of the site’s friends’ group, visitors can participate in creating soap carvings, meet and release ladybugs, enjoy a nature hike and puppet show, meet the chainsaw artist and see his other creations, view wood carving demonstrations plus create tree cookie art. The program is free, but donations are requested for certain activities.
The public is invited to “adopt” one of the animals on the sculpture for a donation of $500 to $1000. Corporate and large individual donations will be recognized on a tree cookie unveiled on October 19, 2019, the fiftieth anniversary celebration of Hidden Oaks, the county’s first nature center. Details on the fundraising campaign can be found on fohonc.com.
Hidden Oaks Nature Center is located at 7701 Royce St., Annandale, VA. For more information call 703-941-1065 or go to Hidden Oaks Nature Center.