By Larry Perl, email@example.com
1:59 PM EST, November 29, 2011
Sherwood Gardens is best known for its tulips in the spring. But the plant drawing the most attention now is a 12-foot-tall evergreen tree at Stratford Road and Greenway.
It's the community Christmas tree, strung with lights for the holidays.
Guilford residents Dr. Paul Fowler and Frank McNeil Jr. planted the Siberian pine about four years ago when a longtime neighbor, Chang Goodwin, died.
The former Gilman School teacher loved to stroll the gardens with his wife and their dog, Fowler recalled.
"They were always nice and stopped to talk to us," he said.
When Goodwin died, Fowler and McNeil planted the tree in his memory, in lieu of flowers at his funeral.
Now, it's Sherwood Gardens' official Christmas tree.
"I think it' s great," Fowler said.
It's not nearly as tall as the previous Christmas tree, a towering evergreen in the center of the gardens. That tree, which had served for many years and had its own electrical outlet, grew too tall to light, said Bruce Barnett, a 33-year Guilford resident and Sherwood Gardens' volunteer tender-in-chief.
Barnett decided last year to retire it as a holiday tree, and start anew with the smaller one. But to light it, he had to run an extension cord from a neighbor's house, and that was just for the official lighting ceremony.
He decided not to light it any other day last year, for fear that it could spark a fire, or that someone might trip over it and cause liability issues.
This year, Barnett, a Guilford resident and a physics professor at Johns Hopkins University, hired an electrician to run a line to the tree, which now has an electrical outlet near its base, just like its predecessor.
Admiring the tree on a late fall evening, Barnett, 68, was reminded of the farm he grew up on in Ohio.
"This is my farm," he said.