The Wonder of Creation

It is no surprise that the Pine Grove is the heart of campus not only literally but figuratively. For as long as Hope has been, its towering white pines and their cousins have served at once as campus crossroads and as a welcoming oasis. Endlessly patient, they can be a tranquil refuge from the demands of the to-do, provide a quiet place to study, or host gatherings of students — or of the extended Hope family — by the handful or hundreds.

They are among more than 2,000 trees, representing approximately 100 different species from around the world, that populate Hope. The diversity is spread across some 200 acres, but it’s also well represented by the very walkable central campus betwixt College and Columbia avenues, and 10th and 13th streets, which while not quite an arboretum provides perhaps the next best thing.

The pages which follow share some of the most storied, unique and familiar among the trees within those three-or-so blocks, along with directions for those who might like to visit them during the gentle days of spring and summer to come.

Hope’s trees, and the way that the college cares for them, are appreciated nationally as well. Earlier this spring, and for the fourth year in a row, Hope received Tree Campus Higher Education® recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management.

If you wish to learn more about the college’s trees, or about trees elsewhere in Holland, please visit Hope online. The sustainability section of the website has materials including a “Campus Tree Stops” pdf (the source of some of the information on these pages) as well as a link to the free, Hope-developed TreeSap app at the Apple Store that provides information about specific trees in the area.

White Pine
(Pinus strobus)

Location: behind the President’s Home

If Hope had an official tree, it would be the white pine. Although not the only species found in multiple locations, it justly merits the distinction as the towering, iconic denizen of the beloved grove at the heart of campus that bears its name.

This particular tree, a near neighbor of the Pine Grove, acquired a swing in the summer of 2019, installed by the Physical Plant staff (who also built an outdoor wooden playhouse) in anticipation of the arrival of the Scogin family’s three young children.

Dawn Redwood
(Metasequoia glyptostroboides)

Location: middle of Pine Grove, east of Graves Hall

It won’t become as tall as the famous coast redwoods of California, but this tree still has growing to do, with the largest of its species reaching more than 150 feet in height (50-60 feet is more typical). The trees were believed to have been extinct for nearly 20 million years until found in south-central China by a conservation group in 1940.

Kentucky Coffeetree
(Gymnocladus dioicus)

Location: alongside southeastern sidewalk to Dimnent Memorial Chapel

Part of the legume family, the tree gets its name because early Kentucky settlers recognized the resemblance of its woody seed pods to coffee beans.

Northern Red Oak
(Quercus rubra)

Location: north (10th Street) side of Lubbers Hall

The college’s records include a hand-drawn map from December of 1945 that features every building and every tree, among them the then-newish Lubbers Hall (opened in 1942 as “the Science Building”) and this familiar individual. An even older example of the species stands on Columbia Avenue between 12th and 13th streets across from Kollen Hall, so venerable that it likely predates not only Hope’s chartering in 1866 but the arrival of Holland’s Dutch settlers in the 1840s.

“He who plants a tree plants a hope.”

Lucy Larcom

European Beech
(Fagus sylvatica)

Location: Van Raalte Commons east of Dimnent Memorial Chapel

This tree was planted as a successor to a cherished European beech that died during the 1988-89 school year as a delayed response to intense heat it endured during the April 1980 burning of Van Raalte Hall, which had stood on the commons since 1903.

Sugar Maple
(Acer saccharum)

Location: alongside southeastern sidewalk to Dimnent Memorial Chapel

Michigan is just about at the center of the range of this native North American species. As with all of the college’s deciduous trees, when the leaves drop in autumn, they are ground in place (rather than removed) to serve as mulch to nurture the lawn and the tree itself.

Hope’s campus has over 2,000 trees representing approximately 100 different species.

Japanese Flowering Cherry
(Prunus serrulata)

Location: south of Dimnent Memorial Chapel

Seen here sporting its early fall foliage, this decorative tree will add vibrant color to campus when it sprouts luscious pinkish-white blossoms later this spring.

American Elm
(Ulmus Americana)

Location: at the sidewalk “X” between Dimnent Memorial Chapel and the Jim and Martie Bultman Student Center

Although Dutch elm disease has killed tens of millions of elms since first reported in North America in the 1920s, the Hope campus is home to a number of surviving examples of the species.

Japanese Zelkova
(Zelkova serrata)

Location: west of Voorhees Hall

The Japanese Zelkova was planted in conjunction with the 1981 renovation of historic Voorhees Hall, constructed in 1907. As its name indicates, the species is native to Asia (eastern China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan). It has found a home in the U.S. not least of all because it is resistant to Dutch elm disease, unlike the American elm to which it is related.

Silver Maple
(Acer saccharum)

Location: southwest corner of Graves Hall, near Dimnent Memorial Chapel

One of the most common trees in the United States, silver maples are found in multiple locations on campus, nearly as ubiquitous as the squirrels that often call them home.

Eastern Hemlock
(Tsuga canadensis)

Location: west of Van Vleck Hall/south of Durfee Hall

Although the Pine Grove is dominated by white pines, it’s home to a variety of species. In an entirely unintentional (we think) parallel to its name, this tree stands on the eastern edge of the grove’s “bowl.”

Grand Fir
(Abies grandis)

Location: between President’s Home and Voorhees Hall

Native to the northwest U.S., this classically-shaped evergreen was planted in 2013 for the annual campus Christmas tree lighting event inaugurated by Dr. John Knapp, Hope’s 12th president, and his wife, Kelly.

Honey Locust
(Gleditsia triacanthos)

Location: east of Van Vleck Hall

Although honey locusts create shade, they don’t like to be in it, making this tree’s sidewalk-encircled home outside Van Vleck’s main entrance an ideal location.