Planting trees is always a significant project. A couple of weeks ago I went over to the Energy Park at 7 a.m. for what I thought was a celebratory tree planting. I was surprised that there was no crowd; however Nancy Hazard, Mary Chicoine and John Bottomley, all of the Greenfield Tree Committee, were hard at work planting two tulip poplars and a disease resistant elm. It did not take a crowd to make this a celebratory occasion.
Tulip poplars, Liriodendron tulipifera, are not related to tulips or poplars; they are related to magnolias and are very large trees. They can grow to a height of over 100 feet, have a wide spread, produce cupped, fragrant flowers in the spring, and striking golden foliage in the fall. The Committee planted one of the tulip poplars, and the elm to the side of the stage because their large canopies will make afternoon shade for both the performers, and audiences at Energy Park Performances.
Dutch elm disease wiped out nearly all the elms in the country, but a few have survived and hybridizers have created some elms that are resistant to the disease. Elms are also large trees, and particularly notable for their graceful vase shape. The Energy Park is a wonderful location for these trees, because there is enough room to accommodate trees of this size.
The second tulip poplar has been planted in the shady woodland. sharing space with spring ephemerals and native plants that are attractive to pollinators.Tr
These three trees were paid for in part by a donation by the Greenfield Garden Club which wished to memorialize three of their beloved members who recently passed away. Carol Doerpholz was a long time member of the Greenfield Garden Club. She supported the garden at Trap Plain, organized the Garden Club crafters at the club’s Fall Festival at Trap Plain, helped prepare Franklin County Fair exhibits and often opened her garden for the Garden Tours. Carol was always a hard worker and great friend!
Nancy Stone was a long time member and the Club’s support at the Chamber of Commerce. She often donated original art for the Fall Festival raffles and opened her garden for the Garden Tours. She was a great supporter of the club.
Dolly Gagnon, was a member of the club and served as Vice President for many years. She assisted with publicity through her “Talk of the Town” column for the Recorder.
The Greenfield Tree Committee is a 501c3 under the umbrella of the Connecticut River Conservancy. Two weeks ago I would have wondered why the Committee is connected to the River Conservancy but the other night we were watching the TV program 10 That Changed America and saw the episode about 10 parks. Philadelphia is located between two rivers but it had no good drinking water in the 19th century. Robert Morris Copland designed a system that raised water to an underground reservoir that then gravity-fed water to the city. Fairmount Park was sited below that reservoir. Then, with Olmsted andVaux, Copland extended the park. More parkland was created by planting trees, more forests up river to protect the water. The relationship between trees and clean water was made clearer.
Of course, trees have other functions. They play a part in combating climate change including breathing in and storing CO2 and breathing out oxygen, as well as cooling our cities. They provide a canopy and habitat for wildlife including birds, provide wood for fuel and for furniture, help prevent soil erosion, and mask unpleasant views and mufflle sounds in the city as well as many more benefits.
The Greenfield Tree Committee has a social side as well. When they go into their planting trees mode they create parties. Earlier this spring, working with Boy Scouts and neighbors on Orchard Street, Crescent Street and Spring Terrace, they planted 25 trees, oaks, maples and tulip poplars.
The Tree Committee’s new and on-going project is working with Greenfield, Montague and the Franklin County Technical School, using a grant from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts to create a tree nursery at the Tech School. This will give students new knowledge and professional skills about planting trees, caring for trees, and will provide towns with affordable trees beginning five years from now.
Massachusetts poet, teacher and author Lucy Larcom (1824-1893) wrote a poem that captures the gifts a tree bestows beyond ameliorating climate change and helping keep our water clean. The title is basic and clear – Plant a Tree. I am giving the first two lines of four stanzas.
“He who plants a tree – He plants a hope.
He who plants a tree – He plants a joy;
He who plants a tree – He plants peace.
He who plants a tree – He plants love.“
I think we can all understand that hope for future pleasures and joy follow the planting of a tree, just as we have all experienced peace beneath summer shade. When we plant a tree we know that benefits will come to those who follow us, those who are beloved. Hope, joy, peace and love are the gifts that the Greenfield Tree Committee intends for all who spend time at the Energy Park, as along every newly tree lined street.
Between the Rows August 11, 2018