Mike on America

Trees Grows In Brooklyn, And Here's The Reason Why

Lady Bugs

How many lady bugs does it take to battle a predator? Right now I'm looking at thousands crawling all over a small pine. The 'pest' I can't even see doesn't stand a chance.

Welcome to the 'Greenhouse from Hell'. It's on the grounds of the F. A. Bartlett Tree Expert Company research facility just outside Charlotte, North Carolina. If trees still grow in Brooklyn, and they do, then F.A. Bartlett is one of the reasons. He founded this company 100 years ago, in fact, there's a big party here this weekend. 400 plus folks in town to celebrate success and to celebrate trees.

What strikes you as you drive out here is how few trees there are now in this part of North Carolina. Development is a large part of the economic influx in this part of the United States. The Carolinas have been 'discovered' now for a little over a decade. Wild-eyed baby boomers from the Northeast and Midwest have flocked here in droves, driven up real estate prices, caused malls to sprout and Starbucks to flourish. In many ways it has 'saved' many a small town down here and been a real boon to the economic future of the American South.

One problem. What happened to the trees? "It's what happens when developers take over. They scrape the earth 'clean' and start from scratch. It's coming right up to our front gates," says Dr. Bruce Fraedrich.

Fraedrich and I are talking sitting in his lab at Bartlett. It's what has always made this company different from the tree 'surgeon' guy with a chain saw and a pick up. Research. Science. They take this tree-stuff very seriously. Of course that's why their prices are so high. Expertise is not inexpensive.

"We get samples in here from all over the country. If one of our specialists has a problem, can't identify what's wrong, we get a sample over night," Fraedrich explains while showing me a bag filled with debris from some poor tree in a far off state.

But there's more to Bartlett's history than your backyard or mine. They care for trees all over the country in some very important places; Arlington National Cemetery, Mt. Vernon, Williamsburg, Sagamore Hill, Valley Forge. Bartlett is also in charge of selecting and caring for the trees that will be planted at the World Trade Center Memorial site.

There are many things that tell us who we are as a nation. Many ways to think about where we've been and where we're going. Our trees are one you likely don't think about. We should. Go get'em lady bugs. Here's a toast to the trees, raise a glass for 'MOA' at that big party this weekend.

Be sure to catch 'Mike On America' segments on "Power Lunch" three days a week. Next week, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday is the schedule. You'll meet some great folks and visit places you've never been.


Questions?  Comments?  mikeonamerica@nbcuni.com