Friday, October 6, 2017
OKLAHOMA CITY – About 900 trees have already been transferred to Oklahoma City, waiting to be planted downtown in the new Scissortail Park next year.
Until the 70-acre park is cleared and ready for landscaping, the trees will be kept in nurseries for acclimation to their new environment to ensure transplant survival, said Gavin McMillan, senior principal and director of sustainability at Hargreaves Associates. Out of the $132 million budget for the entire park, the trees alone cost $608,000.
Construction is now underway on the 40-acre section of the park on the north side of Interstate 40 with scheduled completion in spring 2019. The 30-acre south section is scheduled for completion in 2021. When finished, it will be the city’s largest park, easily dwarfing the Myriad Botanical Gardens just a few blocks away at one-tenth the size.
A project of that size deserves careful consideration to protect the investment, said David Todd, who manages the projects funded by the $777 million temporary sales tax under MAPS 3. The planned sprinkler system, which cycles through the central park pond, will handle most of the demand.
“The idea is to try to make it self-sustainable,” he said. “If there’s any top-off needed for that lake, we can tap into a well so we don’t use the city’s normal water supply.”
The other side of the equation involves plants that don’t need much water and have better odds at surviving Oklahoma’s droughts.
“It’s very challenging in Oklahoma City because you have extreme heat and droughts in the summer and freezing in the winter,” he said. “And also your hail can be severe.”
McMillan said the trees chosen for the park are appropriate to the Cross Timbers environment, an ecological region of woody vegetation in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. More than half of the 4.8 million hectares of the region are in central and eastern Oklahoma, making it the most abundant woods and forest type.
According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, the origin of the term Cross Timbers is no longer certain, probably referring to timber settlers crossed on their way west. The most important Cross Timbers species are post oak and blackjack, both slow-growing and shade-intolerant.
McMillan and Todd said the city engaged a group of local landscape architects and horticulturists. Oklahoma State University researchers and representatives from the Myriad garden were involved as well to pick hardy, attractive stock, applying standards of xeriscaping when possible. Xeriscape refers to the reduction of water use through supplemental sources.
“We definitely don’t want Northern California species trying to grow here,” Todd said.