Blame it on the cold: The City of Virginia Beach removes several dead shrubs

Posted at 6:48 PM, Jun 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-17 18:48:43-04

Virginia Beach, Va. - City crews have had their hands full in the extreme heat lately all because of what happened to a number of evergreen shrubs - now dead - in the extreme cold.

"Plants can sustain one day of 7 degrees.  They can't sustain seven days of it, with ice and snow on top of it," said Shawn Hopson, superintendent of Landscape Management for the City of Virginia Beach.

For 46 blocks, from 43rd to 89th Streets along Atlantic Avenue, crews have been using the big equipment to remove several oleander evergreen shrubs - shrubs that didn't stand a chance from the past two winters.

"When you have a non-native plant that you bring in and you try to survive in the temperate zone that it's used to and all of a sudden, you have two cold winters back to back, it doesn't like it.  Mother Nature does her thing and says, 'This is not for us,'" said Hopson.

Hopson says only 5 percent of the shrubs made it through the winter.  And since some of the plants have been removed, many neighbors have been concerned if and when they're coming back.

In fact, folks who live just off of Atlantic Avenue say the shrubs serve an important purpose, by blocking out the sound from traffic on the busy stretch of road.

"Not only the sound, but they don't have to look at the traffic that's coming up and down the street.  So it muffles the sound and provides a buffer where people can protect their houses," said Hopson.

Removal work is expected to be completed by mid-July.  Hopson says oleander shrubs will not be coming back to that stretch of Atlantic Avenue.  He says the city is working with the North Virginia Beach Civic League to develop a plan to plant new evergreen shrubs by the fall.

"The vegetative buffer that they had is no longer there as well as the aesthetically pleasing environment, which the City of Virginia Beach strives to provide, not only for the citizens but patrons coming and spending money in our resort city," said Hopson.