The right tree for the right spot
By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Thu., Feb. 3, 2011
MANCHESTER - For 80 years, the Manchester Garden Club has been supporting gardening throughout the town. The club maintains four gardens, including the Margaret Trotter Memorial Garden and the Vietnam Memorial Park Garden, both at the corners of Main and Center Street; the Ellen Buckley Memorial Garden on the Green; and the Children’s Butterfly Garden in Northwest Park. The club also provides decorations for the Cheney Homestead Holiday Open House, and plantings along Main Street.
The club meets on the second Monday of the month, from September through June. At the January meeting, approximately 60 club members and guests gathered to learn about the preservation of the urban forest as presented by Ron Pitz, director of the Hartford-based Knox Park Foundation.
The Knox Park Foundation was created in the 1950s by “green space visionary” Betty Knox, who saw that during difficult economic times, the budget for parks was very often reduced. Today, the foundation is based in the inner city on 4 acres with a greenhouse. The foundation involves disenfranchised youth in the growing and planting of annuals used in Hartford’s public spaces. The foundation also oversees community gardens that serve 240 families.
Ten years ago, the foundation started a program called Trees for Hartford Neighborhoods, when it realized that the city had no money to replace trees that were removed either due to disease or construction projects. According to Pitz, Hartford was losing 200 to 300 trees each year. The foundation works with the city and the residents in the neighborhoods to select the right tree for the right spot. The residents are then involved in the planting and maintenance of the new trees. “When you plant 40 trees in a several-block area, you transform the neighborhood,” said Pitz. “It’s a neighborhood affair.” These trees have a 97-percent survival rate vs. the 45-to 60-percent survival rate of trees planted by the city, because of the neighborhood involvement.
Properly selected and placed trees can have more than just aesthetic benefits. Shade trees can cut down cooling costs in the summer, and evergreen trees can block winter winds, thereby reducing heating costs. Trees also play an important role in recharging the ground water, as well as removing harmful particulates from the air. “Trees benefit everyone,” explained Pitz. “They help human beings. That’s the beauty of trees.”
“Every town needs to have a treeplanting program, because so many of the trees are mature,” said Pitz. “Our trees are aging. We need to plant new trees.” The foundation has funded two studies that have shown that Hartford’s tree canopy is currently at 25 percent, and it should be at 35 to 40 percent. According to Pitz, that translates to an additional 16,000 trees in Hartford.
According Manchester’s tree warden, Michael Tupper, although the town does not have an on-going tree inventory, residents can support urban tree-planting through the memorial tree program. “We’ve planted hundreds of trees through that program,” said Tupper. In 2010, 23 trees were planted in various parks and public spaces throughout the town, with a value of approximately $3,000.
The memorial tree program is administered by the town’s Customer Service Information Center in conjunction with the parks department. With a minimum donation of $25, residents can mark significant life events with a tree-planting. Contributions are held until sufficient funds are donated, approximately $250 per tree. The tree warden selects the location, species of tree and the schedule of plantings. The donor receives an acknowledgement card, indicating the species of the tree and where the tree has been planted. “It’s a very nice program to support the environment and provide a living memorial,” said Doreen Petrozza, citizens services manager. For more information about this program, visit the town website at townofmanchester.org or contact Petrozza in the Customer Service Information Center by calling 860-647-5235.
In addition to coordinating the tree plantings, Tupper is also responsible for deciding which trees within the town right-of-way need to be removed. In some cases, he may determine that the tree must be removed due to an immediate hazard, such as signs of illness causing limbs to drop. Other trees or brush may need to be removed in conjunction with construction projects, or to improve line of sight along the road.
The Manchester Garden Club will meet on Monday, Feb. 14, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the lower level of the Center Congregational Church. Andy Brand of the Broken Arrow Nursery in Hamden, Conn., will speak about the importance of using native plants and will identify some great “Born in the USA” plants. For more information, visit the website at manchestergardenclubs.org.