TTU Bringing Willows Back to Willow Avenue

Before the restaurants, stores and gas stations appeared on Willow Avenue, willow trees lined the thoroughfare.

Now, a Tennessee Technological University student is leading an effort to bring the willows back to Willow Avenue to enhance the landscape enjoyed by businesses and the community.

"My agriculture professor, Douglas Airhart, explained to me that Willow Avenue was an accurate name because so many willows used to line the avenue," said Rusty Barber, a landscape/horticulture major from Castalian Springs. "Many years of growth have changed the landscape, and only a few trees remain."

Finding places to plant trees among the asphalt and power lines was a challenge, but as part of his senior project, Barber compiled a list of several sites from I-40 to the Dixie Avenue intersection. He estimates 50-200 willows could be placed along the route, if a variety of species are used.

"Because of lack of space, I decided we should use both the shrub and tree variety in various shapes and sizes," said Barber. "Some of the species will probably include green weeping, corkscrew and pussy willows."

Cookeville's Tree Board donated the first six trees to the project. Those trees were planted at approved sites including the corner of Willow Avenue and 12th St., near the university's health and physical education building.

Barber estimates the shrubs will cost $15-$20 each and the trees $30-$35 each. He said some nurseries have offered discounts depending on the quantity of trees purchased.

"This is a great chance for civic groups, church groups and clubs to work together on the funding and planting of trees that will be a beautiful legacy to the city," said Barber.

For more information about purchasing or planting the willows, contact Airhart at 372-3288.