Battered by Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011, a central limb that weighed several tons snapped off the famous Great Oak at George Landis Arboretum, leaving one of the oldest white oaks in the Northeast in critical condition.
After 18 months of tender care and a special watering and fertilization regimen, the Great Oak, estimated to be about 450 years old, has stabilized and its condition has been upgraded to guarded.
They brought up water tanks to the ailing tree — 80-feet high, 90 feet wide and a 17-foot circumference — during last summer's drought and added supplemental minerals and vitamins through a special fertilizer mix.
A rule of thumb is that ancient oaks pass through three main stages: 150 years of robust growth, 150 years of almost no growth and 150 years of slowly dying.
The staff at the arboretum is doing more research on its two dozen large oaks that are more than 250 years old. They're plotting the great oaks on a map, using precise GPS coordinates, and will publish a new brochure in 2014.
"A lot of these oaks are off the trails and they sat silent for centuries. The general public never knew we had somany of these mighty giants," said Fred Breglia, executive director.