Edie and Guy Sternberg created Starhill Forest Arboretum. The renowned arboretum is located on 48 acres in southern Menard County, Illinois, near the state's capital city of Springfield.
When you think of oak trees, many things come to mind. Dense, lasting wood, dependable food source for wildlife and monumental, long-lived, hardy trees. But, you should also think of “The Oak Man”, Guy Sternberg.
Sternberg’s lifework with trees reaches as far as the branches of a massive oak. He has cultivated and studied trees since 1952. With his wife, Edie, Sternberg grows more than 500 species of various woody plants at his living laboratory, the renowned Starhill Forest Arboretum. The Arboretum is located on 48 acres in southern Menard County, Illinois, near the state’s capital city of Springfield.
Sternberg’s career with trees has led him to nominate more state tree champions than anyone else in Illinois. He also works with the National Famous and Historic Tree Program of American Forests to promote awareness and appreciation of special and historic trees. To that point, Sternberg has developed a number of prized oak cultivars, including ‘Chimney Fire’ and ‘Pathfinder’.
The ‘Pathfinder’ oak is in development, the result of a legendary, documented Illinois trail tree, which dated back to the 1730s. Twigs were taken from the top of the newly fallen tree and successfully grafted. In a few years, the noble heritage of this oak will be passed on through its cultivar.
Another Starhill oak cultivar is the popular ‘Chimney Fire’. This upright, columnar oak makes a great specimen tree. Among oaks, it offers a more compact habit, up to 60’ tall and 20’ wide, so it fits into a variety of landscapes. From spring through fall, ‘Chimney Fire’ offers great color with bright red spring foliage and rusty red fall hues.
Beginning this fall, ‘Chimney Fire’ and other Starhill cultivars will be available to the trade as well as to the general public through Forrest Keeling, nursery partner of Starhill, and FKN licensees.