Trees With a Story: Shade Tree to Public Art


"The Owl and the Oak" is a relatively new addition to the Margaret Annis Boys Centennial Arboretum in Bickham-Rudkin Park.

It was probably just an overlooked young native tree growing at the edge of Kickingbird Golf Course when it was still Reynolds Park. The statuesque post oak on the southeast corner of Danforth and Bryant saw the enhancement of the tennis center, developments that sprung up around it, and it endured construction for road widening as Edmond continued to grow. As Edmond continued to change, this tree remained a landmark on this corner, eye catching and majestic. The drought worsened in 2011, and the tree declined and completely defoliated early in the season. It was soon apparent that no ounce of green was left in this beautifully formed, open grown, Cross Timbers tree.

Edmond’s Parks and Recreation Department saw new life for this large diameter post oak and consulted with a local chainsaw carver, Thomas Zimmer, to immortalize the tree as public art. The sculptor arrived with a trailer on the day that the City’s contractor removed the tree, to haul off this large length of post oak trunk to his studio.

Weeks later, the trunk reappeared as a large stump pedestal with a carved owl perched on top. Imperfections in the wood were highlighted, and the sculpture was stained a lovely dark brown. It was only fitting that such a statue, one fixating on nature and forest wildlife, be placed in one of Edmond’s parks. Furthermore, how fitting it was to place it in Edmond’s home for specimen trees, the Margaret Annis Boys Centennial Arboretum in Bickham-Rudkin Park. When entering the arboretum from the bridge at the north end, "The Owl and the Oak" greets visitors as they approach the trail loop, sitting just south of the Y near the transplanted weeping Japanese pagoda tree. It is a remarkable tribute to the unique post oak species of our Cross Timbers forest.

Do you know of a “tree with a story” in Edmond? Contact the Urban Forestry Department and your tree could end up in the next issue of Edmond Tree Mail!

"The Owl and the Oak" with the beautiful backdrop of the Margaret Annis Boys Centennial Arboretum.