Wednesday, April 7, 2010

7 April 1964: Official Tree and Flower for Athens Approved

On this day in 1964, the Athens City Council unanimously voted to make the Iris the city's official flower and the Ginkgo the city's official tree. The motion was passed after "councilmen pushed aside the rules of procedure and acted on a letter from the Athens Garden Club."

Also on the agenda that night, the Council approved a 90-day trial of 2-hour limits on parking meters downtown, changed the city code so the police chief could issue a written permit to citizens older than 21 to shoot pest animals on their property, and scheduled a new zoning meeting for April 29th.

Both irises and ginkgo trees are low-maintenance and easy to grow plants. Irises often spread on their own, like full sun, can tolerate poor soil, and are rarely afflicted by diseases. Ginkgo trees are extremely hardy and do not reach maturity for 25-30 years; the oldest on record reached 3,500 years of age. They are considered "living fossils," which means they are "similar or even identical to" trees from the fossil record dating 190 million years ago. Ginkgos can survive a variety of stressful growing conditions, including pollution and confined root space, which makes them a popular choice for urban planting.

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