WALLINGFORD — When the Mowersons bought their home in 2007, neighbors told them they had the largest known English walnut tree in the state.
“According to verbal legend of the neighbors, this was the largest,” said homeowner Scott Mowerson.
He and his wife, Lisa-Anne Mowerson, had reached out to different organizations to confirm the claim. They finally got their answer last week when they saw a photo of the tree in a photo gallery of images the Record-Journal published from 20 years ago.
“I recognized the guy’s name, and I said, ‘that’s the house we bought, so that’s our tree,’” said Scott Mowerson, a stay-at-home dad.
Lisa-Anne Mowerson is assistant chief of the Eastern Blind Rehabilitation Center in the Veterans Affairs Connecticut Healthcare System. Their son, Matt Mowerson, is a 14-year-old Sheehan High School freshman who’s running for class vice president.
The former homeowner, Peter Chuley, had the tree measured 20 years ago this month by Ed Richardson of the Notable Tree Project, a volunteer project sponsored by the Connecticut Botanical Society, the Connecticut College Arboretum and the Connecticut Urban Forest Council.
"What's this! I can't believe it!" Richardson recalled thinking in 1998, according to Record-Journal archives. "It's an English walnut, a rarity in this state."
At the time, the English walnut tree in Chuley’s yard measured 68 feet high with a 65-foot canopy and a 106-inch-circumference trunk, indeed making it the largest known English walnut tree in the state.
Today, the tree remains on the list, only it doesn’t hold the champion title anymore; there’s a slightly larger English walnut tree in Stratford, according to the Notable Trees Project.
Chuley died in 2005. The Mowersons bought the house in December 2007 and moved in a few months later.
“It was big when we bought the house,” Mowerson said of the tree. “It’s gotten a little bit bigger since then.”
As the tree grew bigger, the family created a rich story about the lives of the backyard squirrels.
A tall chestnut tree grows next to the title-holding English walnut tree, both of which produce nuts.
“They’re great weaponry for the attack squirrels,” said Matt Mowerson.
Scott Mowerson added, “the squirrels like to throw things down from up high.”
The trees are home to a group of “kamikaze squirrels,” as Matt Mowerson called them.
“The reason we call them kamikaze squirrels is that every couple years, they do send a squirrel agent to fry himself on the power line, and it knocks out power to our house,” Scott Mowerson said.
After his son’s laughter subsided, he said, “this is just a comedy routine. This is just a joke.”
The squirrels may have another food source on the way.
“I think I’m finally getting a baby mulberry tree growing in my yard,” Scott Mowerson said.