Native redbud trees beautify Pittsburgh

Redbud TreePittsburgh Redbud Project LogoWhen Frank Dawson, ASLA, was traveling back and forth from his hometown of Pittsburgh to New York City, he noticed the beautiful early blooms of the native redbud trees that are clustered at the ridgetops along the highway. He always admired redbuds trees, having a few in his own yard.

“I wondered if my excitement and passion for these trees could translate to the landscape in Pittsburgh, to create a buzz for the coming of spring in the city,” said Frank. So, he set out to make his idea a reality.

From planning to planting

Frank sits on an advisory panel called Paris to Pittsburgh, a program that offers grants to help property and business owners make building façade improvements and establish outdoor cafés.

“I came to one of the meetings with a map of the city and drew a giant pink line across it,” he recalled. This line would signify his plan to plant thousands of native trees throughout the city, including redbuds, which would be the dominant and featured trees.

A depiction of what the city skyline with redbuds would look like in the spring.

A depiction of what the city skyline with redbuds would look like in the spring.

Frank prepared a proposal for his tree planting initiative, which was excitedly accepted by the Conservancy. Just recently, the grant proposal was approved and will provide 1,200 trees to be planted (400 will be redbuds) throughout the Pittsburgh landscape for the community to enjoy and celebrate at the beginning of each spring.

The initiative has been thoughtfully dubbed The Pittsburgh Redbud Project. Beginning this spring and carrying through spring of 2017, there will be three planting sessions with the first planting scheduled to be on April 19. Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Volunteers and many from across the city will help with this effort. With CannonDesign as a sponsor through our Open Hand Studio, Frank hopes many CannonDesigners from our Pittsburgh office as well as the greater Pittsburgh community will come out and show their support for this exciting project.

Frank and Joe placing one of the new redbud trees.

Frank and Joe placing one of the new redbud trees.

Some Fun Redbud Tree Facts:

  • The large burlap trees weigh about 250lbs
  • 50-60 people volunteer per planting event
  • There are approximately 15,000 Redbud seeds in a pound
  • Western PA Conservancy will be giving away 1500 small trees (redbud will be the feature)
  • Redbud Trees are members of the pea family
  • Redbud Trees grow 1-2 ft per year
  • Redbud Trees Live 50-70 years
  • Redbud Trees start to flower with 5-7 years growth

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