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The Botanic Garden of Smith College
Memorial/Honorial Tree Policy

Effective April 30, 2001, updated 2012

All memorial gifts, whether they are tree adoptions or new plantings, must be arranged with the Botanic Garden well in advance. We have had many inquiries about tree planting on campus. If you are puzzled by the changes to the memorial tree policy, the Director has written an explanation that justifies our Memorial Tree and Memorial Bench policy. Please click here to read the justification.

Memorial Tree Option (Click Here for Available Trees)

If a donor chooses to have a new memorial tree planted, rather than adopting an existing tree, a formal request must be made to the Botanic Garden. The Botanic Garden will inform the potential donor whether or not there is a memorial tree available, that is, whether the Botanic Garden has the intent to add a tree to the landscape that could be designated as a memorial tree within the desired time frame.

The Botanic Garden will choose the type of tree and the location of the planting site since these two decisions must be made with the Master Plan in mind. However, if multiple trees are available, the donor can choose from the list provided by the Botanic Garden. The minimum donation for the planting of a memorial tree is $ 5,000. This covers the cost of the tree, the standard plaque, the planting fee, and maintenance costs. The tree will be maintained by the Botanic Garden until it dies, becomes a hazard, or must be removed for a building project.

The Botanic Garden will not replace any memorial trees unless they die within a year of planting. When a memorial tree eventually dies or needs to be removed, the donor will be notified and will have the option to memorialize another tree under the previously listed conditions (another request and donation is required). Replacement requests are the top priority and will be done before any new donors are accepted.

Adopt a Tree Option (Click Here for Available Trees)

To "adopt" an existing tree and have a memorial plaque attached to the tree, the donor must request a list of available trees, which includes the level of donation necessary for each tree. An ad hoc committee has evaluated the relative worth of the trees on campus and attached to each an appropriate donation level. The more historic, regal, significant and long-lived the tree, the higher the level of donation required. Insurance estimates for the older giants on campus (e.g. the Ginkgo near the Lyman Pond) indicate the value to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Since the cost of maintaining a tree in good health throughout the life of the tree is largely dependent on the longevity of the species and its predisposition to limb damage and disease, the donation level is highly variable.

Donor plaques will remain on the tree until the tree dies or is removed because it has become a hazard. In some cases this could be as little as 5 to 10 years and in others (e.g. a long-lived Ginkgo) it could be over 200 years. If a tree is removed for construction purposes (e.g. new building additions, relocation of sewer lines) the donor will be informed and the care can be transferred to a comparable tree, providing one exists.

The plaque, rather than reading "This tree was planted in memory of Mary Doe" will read something like, "The care of this tree is being provided by Mrs. Jane Doe Jones in memory of her daughter Mary Doe."

Smith College
Last updated on Thursday, March 18, 2010.