More than 150 new trees have been planted on campus in the last few months as part of a $1 million commitment from Oconee County wholesale nursery Select Trees through its charitable entity, Select SustainablePlus Tree Trust.
In its third year of the donation, the trees are being planted in honor of horticulturist and former UGA faculty member Michael Dirr and his wife, Bonnie.
“Select Trees would not exist in its current form without the incredible guidance of Dr. Michael Dirr and UGA,” said Matt Nielson, vice president of the nursery. “It is a pleasure to be able to give something back, and we hope that as people enjoy UGA’s new trees, they will become aware of the contributions made by Dr. Dirr and his family.”
The initial donation was made in memory of the Dirr’s daughter, Susy, a UGA graduate who died in 2008 after a long-fought battle with cystic fibrosis.
“The gift from the Select SustainablePlus Tree Trust will offer a lasting legacy for future generations who will share the same beautiful campus we now enjoy,” said Tom Landrum, senior vice president for external affairs. “The fact that this year’s gift honors such a dedicated horticulturist as Mike Dirr and a university friend and supporter like Bonnie Dirr makes it an even more fitting tribute.”
Spread throughout the campus of the university, more than 550 trees have been planted to date and at the end of the 10 years, that number will total more than 1,000. Most are oaks, elms, maples, bald cypress, dawn redwood, and magnolias that will live between 50 and 150 years, benefiting the environment, wildlife and eco-conservation efforts. The trees can be spotted on North Campus, along the corridors of South Milledge Avenue between the Jack Turner Stadium and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, College Station Road and the Health Sciences Campus.
“No one has been a more ardent supporter of the UGA campus grounds than Mike Dirr, and we are delighted that these plantings are in his honor,” said Dexter Adams, director of the Physical Plant. “Go into any nursery or garden center in America and there on the manager’s bookshelf will be a worn copy of Dr. Dirr’s Manual, itself containing frequent references to the Athens campus landscape.”
“I want to thank the Select SustainablePlus Tree Trust for their kindness,” said Michael Dirr. “Future generations will appreciate this most noble contribution. A great quote sums up this gesture. ‘He who plants trees loves others besides himself.’ May the campus be always graced with noble trees.”
Said Bonnie Dirr: “I have spent two thirds of my life with the ultimate tree enthusiast. There is no more fitting tribute for both of us than to green the world with noble trees.
I am honored to be a part of this tree initiative.”
“Our two founders, along with six of our seven partners are UGA graduates in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, environmental design and business,” said Nielson. “So our roots are firmly established in the soil tilled by UGA researchers, professors and most especially Mike Dirr. We’re honored to be able to provide a donation that will provide all areas of campus, new and old, with the tree canopy and shade that make the University of Georgia such a magnet for students, pedestrians and faculty.”