Nurtured by parks staff, seeds of Hiroshima’s A-Bomb survivor trees grow a new hope in Oak Bay.
As a member of Mayors for Peace, Oak Bay signed on for 30 seeds from hibakujumoku, or survivor trees, to plant and grow in the community. Staff planted all 30 last fall, and 21 gingko sprung and now cluster under caged guard from unscrupulous squirrels in Oak Bay Parks’ care.
“We have had 21 germinated and they’re now growing,” said Chris Hyde-Lay, parks manager for Oak Bay. “We’ll grow them for about five years then we’re going to plant them in Lafayette Park in a grove with a plaque.”
They’ll refurbish an area of a well-used park that could use a little love and the trees will bring a little of their own peace. About 170 trees in a two-kilometre radius of the centre of the bombing are officially registered by Hiroshima as A-bombed trees. Like atomic bomb survivors themselves, the trees bear witness to the devastation wrought by nuclear weapons.
“The tree will be both a reminder of the horrors of war and a hope for the future. It will stand as a powerful symbol for peace,” said Mayor Nils Jensen.
In August 1945, atomic bombs reduced the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to rubble, killing hundreds of thousands of people. To prevent repetition of the tragedy, Hiroshima and Nagasaki continually tell the world about the cruelty of nuclear weapons and consistently urge that nuclear weapons be abolished. On June 24, 1982, at the 2nd UN Special Session on Disarmament held at UN Headquarters in New York, then Mayor Takeshi Araki of Hiroshima proposed a new Program to Promote the Solidarity of Cities toward the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. This proposal offered cities a way to transcend national borders and work together to press for nuclear abolition. The mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki called on mayors around the world to support this program.
Today the Mayors for Peace member communities span 161 countries, 7,132 cities and towns – 313 of those Canadian cities.
Ginkgos are large growing to about 20 to 35 metres tall with some in China towering more than 50 metres. The tree is usually deep rooted making it resistant to wind and snow damage. In the fall, leaves turn a bright yellow, then fall. A combination of resistance to disease, insect-resistant wood and the ability to form roots and sprouts makes ginkgos long-lived. Some are believed to be more than 2,500 years old.
“They’re a tree that is also very, very slow to evolve, they’re called a fossil tree,” Hyde-Lay said.
They won’t use the females for this public park because they bear “stinky fruit” Hyde-Lay said. Other than that, “they’re a good tree.”
Visit www.mayorsforpeace.org to learn more about the organization.