Last modified: 2012-02-10 by rick wyatt
Keywords: city of independence | kentucky | pear tree | aristocrat pear | kenton county |
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image located by Valentin Poposki, 21 March 2006
"At the February 6, 2006 City Council Meeting, Mayor Chris Moriconi unveiled the new city flag. The flag was one of four designs that was posted on the city website and citizens voted for their favorite. When designing the flag Mayor Moriconi felt it was important to incorporate the Aristocrat Pear tree in the theme. Kenton County Extension Agent and Independence resident, William T. Straw propagated the Aristocrat Pear tree. He came to Kentucky from Pennsylvania in 1936. Mr. Straw became a good observer and had a keen eye for exceptional performance of horticultural plant material. He was growing a large number of Pyrus calleryana seedling pear trees and he noted that there were many different growth habits. One tree in particular caught his eye in 1969. It had a strong central leader with strong branching, an early pyramidal form, and matured into a round-headed tree of 30 to 35 feet. He took graft scions from this special seedling and bench grafted them using the whip grafting technique on to other seedling Pyrus calleryana rootstocks known in the nursery trade as liners. The White Rock Nursery at Austonio in Houston County, Texas has grown and shipped millions of these liners for many years all over the nation. The grafted trees had the characteristics of the original seedling tree. These trees had wide-angle crotches so that the freezing rain, during the winters, did not break the limbs and destroy the tree shape, as is the case with many other landscape trees. The up-swinging branches of this tree allow future lower limb removal without altering its form, which makes it an outstanding street tree as well as a beautiful shade or accent tree. Other characteristics of the Aristocrat is its rapid growth, burst of white flowers in the Spring, cold hardiness, disease and insect resistance, small fruit that does not create a hazard in the fall, and most of all, its beautiful fall color. Mr. Straw named his favorite pear tree the 'Aristocrat' and patented it in 1972, which is about the time he retired from the Extension Service and went into the nursery business growing the 'Aristocrat' pear on McCullum Road. Mr. Straw passed away in July 1995. It is reported that the ‘Aristocrat’ is growing as far away as Holland, Canada, Michigan, New York, on the Capitol grounds in Washington, D.C., in California and in Florida.
We are proud to honor Mr. Straw and his family by featuring the “Aristocrat’ on our new city flag."
Valentin Poposki, 21 March 2006