Seerley Boulevard’s iconic flowering trees replanted after 60 years

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  • The flowering crabapple trees have been a staple of Seerley Boulevard since they were planted in the early 1960s. They characterize the historic street, which was once a trolley line in the early 1900s.

  • The trees were cut down, and new Royal Raindrop crabapple trees were planted during the last week of October. The new trees will be similar in appearance, but will be more resistant to disease.

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KATE MURPHY, Staff Writer

Correction: The Northern Iowan would like to correct a series of inaccuracies in the article, “Seerley Boulevard’s iconic flowering trees replanted after 60 years,” originally published on Oct. 31. The original article stated that the College Hill Partnership provided financial and planning support for the replanting of the trees. The College Hill neighborhood and friends of Hugh Pettersen were responsible for raising the funds to purchase the new trees.Additionally, the article stated that the stumps remained for a number of weeks. The stumps were removed, and the new trees were planted within one week.Cedar Falls Public Works was also incorrectly credited with fundraising for the project. They were responsible for planting the trees, but did not contribute to fundraising efforts.

Cedar Falls Public Works and Parks made the decision to chop down the typical blooming crabapple trees on Seerley Boulevard and replace them with new trees this October.

The crabapple trees were planted in the early 1960s. Seerley Boulevard has been known for the pink flowering trees for decades. The College Hill Partnership has been providing financial and planning support to Cedar Falls in the decision to cut down the trees and replace them.

Brett Morris, a supervisor at the Public Works and Parks, said the crab apple trees were at the end of their life. Crabapple trees typically live 40 to 60 years. 

“Most of the trees have dead branches and don’t bloom as nicely, so we had to make a decision,” Morris said. 

The decision was finalized when a local citizen, Mary Brammer, helped raise money to purchase new trees for the street and get them planted.

“We’ve decided to replant crabapple trees but a different type instead,” Morris said. “We’re planting Royal Raindrop crabapple trees which will look very similar to the old ones.”

According to Morris, the new variety of crabapple trees are much more resistant to disease that causes insects to feed on them. This became an issue with the previous species.

“The trees have been sparse for a while now, so the city park staff is excited to see what the new trees will look like.” Morris said.

Many college students and families live on Seerley Boulevard and look forward to their bloom every spring. The College Hill Partnership looks forward to bringing back the springtime look it has been known for. 

For a number of weeks, the stumps were all that remained of the old trees before they were removed by the city staff at the public works. Morris said multiple College Hill residents helped raise funding to make the replanting on Seerley Boulevard possible.

“I’ve talked with some folks living around the area and I know how much they’ve missed the blooming in the spring on Seerley,” Morris said. “We look forward to planting the new trees and seeing how they turn out.”

The history of the College Hill area is important to many residents in Cedar Falls. Before the crabapple trees were planted on Seerley Boulevard, a trolley system used to run through the road. The trolley system began in the 1900s and was removed in 1941. The trolley system was replaced with bus transportation in the area and twenty years later, the cinders from the old rail line were removed to plant the original crabapple trees. 

“I’m not from the Cedar Falls area, but 10-15 years ago, I remember just how beautiful those trees were to look at.” Morris said.

The Royal Raindrop crabapple trees were planted at the end of October.

“I don’t know much about the history of the trees, but I do know how beautiful they bloomed and have been for the past 50 years or so,” Morris said. “That’s why we didn’t want to change the look of Seerley and kept the same type of trees.”

Cedar Falls Public Works began fundraising for the trees in September in hopes of removing the trees as quickly as possible so they could have the new trees start growing for spring 2023. 

“In the last couple years we haven’t seen the beautiful bloom of Seerley, but the College Hill area should expect to see the new crabapple trees bloom next coming spring.” Morris said.