Tree Trivia

With the ALB Seminar coming up tomorrow we thought it would be fun to share some facts about the trees that will be saved when we can properly identify and eradicate the threat posed by this invasive insect. Hope you enjoy our tree trivia and that we see you tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. at the Franklin Park Golf Course Club House for a free information session about how you can save the trees we love so much.

Tree Trivia:

  • Did you know that every year, the Boston Common receives their Christmas tree from Nova Scotia? It serves as a thank-you to the Boston Red Cross and Massachusetts Public Safety Committee, which provided relief efforts in the province after the Halifax Explosion in 1917.
  • When the Brewer Fountain Plaza re-opened this May, the improvements included an additional 32 elms surrounding the fountain area in the Boston Common.
  • In its native China, a redwood tree can grow up to the size of a ten-story building. We are lucky to have a Dawn Redwood in the Public Garden!
  • The willow tree in the Boston Public Garden has served as an iconic subject for thousands of artists, photographers and tourists throughout the years.
  • During the American Revolution, the Sons of Liberty gathered under one of the largest trees in the Boston Common to protest Great Britain’s eradication of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The tree became the Liberty Tree. When British loyalists eventually cut it down, the Sons re-named it the Liberty Stump.
  • The Boston Public Garden contains hundreds of different types of trees. Some are native to the Garden and others have been brought in from exotic locations around the world.
  • The Boston Common possessed the first tree-lined pedestrian mall on its Tremont Street side.
  • Did you know that the Boston Common and Public Garden are on a list of the best parks in the world by the Project for Public Spaces?
  • Many of the trees in the Boston Common have Latin-based names. It was once expected that proper Boston schoolchildren knew both the Latin names and the English translations for the trees.

As always, we’d like to thank the Boston Parks and Recreation Department and our arborist Norm Hellie for all their hard work in maintaining the trees we love in the Public Garden and the Boston Common.

Asian Longhorned Beetle Update

The Asian Longhorned Beetle has often been the source behind many tree-related woes. During the spring of 2011, we conducted a search with the Boston University Global Day of Service FOPG team to look for the beetle throughout parts of Boston, specifically the Common and the Public Garden.

On August 7, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation’s lead ALB Forester Julie Coop will be hosting a free workshop on the beetle at the Franklin Park Golf Course Clubhouse in Dorchester. It will run from 6:30-8:00 P.M. and will teach people how to identify the Asian Longhorned Beetle and prevent it from spreading in Boston.

The Asian Longhorned Beetle is a terribly invasive insect that destroys trees. The beetle has been found throughout Massachusetts and could threaten trees within the city if it is not identified properly and quickly. We hope you will be able to participate in this informative workshop with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation so we can protect our trees!

Friends Members Meet to discuss the problems faced by Urban Trees

Henry Davis provides valuable Tree-education

Last night at our annual Members Reception, Friends received a valuable Tree-education. Guest speaker Henry Davis, a consulting arborist and great friend, described many of the problems faced by urban trees and what action should be taken to ensure they remain a vital part of the community. Davis spoke about the importance of preserving and protecting the trees and discussed the possibility of finding varieties of trees that are well-suited for urban growth.

Photo slides provided examples of both healthy and unhealthy trees. Pruning, Mr. Davis explained, is vital to the life of a healthy urban tree. Trees in the city are confined by a lack of space and compacted soil, as such their roots do not grow deeply or extensively. Because the root system is restricted the size and height of the tree should also be restricted.

Photos helped illustrate the importance of regular pruning.

Mr. Davis took a few moments of the end of his presentation to answer questions from the crowd. Afterwards guests were invited to stay for a wine and cheese reception. Overall, it was a very successful evening. Thank you everyone who attended! Special thanks to Henry Davis for being such a great advocate of the trees.

Gas Leaks pose a Danger to Commonwealth Avenue Trees

Researchers have located thousands of methane gas leaks throughout the Boston area.  An article by Ashlee Fairey published in last week’s Courant describes the leaks and sheds some light on the threat posed by neglecting this problem. In addition to creating a serious safety hazard the leaks are killing trees along the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

According to the article, there are approximately 4,000 gas leaks throughout 90% of the city. Bob Ackley, president of Gas safety Incorporated, is conducting research with Nathan Phillips, director of the Center for energy and environmental studies at Boston University, and estimates between 30 and 50 leaks along Commonwealth Avenue between Massachusetts Avenue and Arlington Street. The citywide average is approximately 5 leaks per road mile.

National Grid, Boston’s sole natural gas provider, classifies leaks as grade 1,2 or 3 depending on the severity. Grade 1 indicates danger of explosion and will be addressed immediately. Grade two leaks are responded to as soon as construction allows and grade 3 leaks are checked only once a year. National grid representatives say that leaks classified as grade 3 do not present a danger of any kind to the safety of the public, Phillips disagrees.

“Peer-reviewed literature suggests that the values we read in Boston are well above the levels of methane that would have health impacts on humans,” Phillips said.  Methane can be harmful at 2.2 parts per million and measurements taken by Phillips show levels up to 30 parts per million in Boston.

State Representative Marty Walz considers this to be matter of public safety “since these small leaks can easily turn into dangerous ones…Beyond that,” Walz says, “these leaks are damaging and sometimes killing trees, and they add to the harmful effects of climate change.”

How Gas Leaks are killing trees

Methane causes the oxygen and moisture in the soil to become displaced killing the tree roots. All of the trees along the inbound side of the Mall between Fairfield and Exeter streets are beginning to show symptoms of methane related ailments.

National Grid has agreed to cover the replanting costs for several of the trees and will continue to do so on a case-by-case basis but has not formally acknowledged a relationship between the gas leaks and the dying trees. A two-year infrastructure upgrade planned for the inbound side of Commonwealth Avenue starting next year would replace 3,000 feet of gas main. Sate representative Lori Ehrlich of Marblehead has proposed four bills aimed at establishing timelines for gas leak repairs and inspections of trees suffering from methane. A house hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, October 25.

32 Elms to be planted at Brewer Fountain Site!

Just yesterday, 32 Homestead Elms arrived on site at the Brewer Fountain Plaza, with planting scheduled over the next several days. Those looking forward to the completed project should see this as a large step in the right direction. Many noticeable changes to the observer of the Brewer Fountain progress will be taking place over the next month. As this project reaches for completion the site will appear more and more refined and begin to show what everyone has been waiting for.

Trees on site and ready to be planted.

The image below is a panorama of the Brewer Plaza. What is significant about this image is that for the first time the design intent of the plaza can be clearly shown.

An earlier image shows the detail of the plaza radius curbing.

The Danger of Dutch Elm Disease in Urban Parks

[photo source]

A large American Elm was taken down today in Boston’s Public Garden across the lagoon from the Swan Boat landing. It was in failing health, and the City Tree Warden is checking tissue samples to determine whether it succumbed to Dutch Elm disease. If this is the case, the Friends of the Public Garden will treat all other elms nearby to protect them from the disease spreading. Dutch Elm disease travels by root graft, so it is important to treat trees in the vicinity of a diseased tree.

A week ago, several elms had to be removed outside of the Garden at the corner of Arlington Street and Beacon Street because of  Dutch Elm disease infection. We are currently injecting the nearby trees in the Public Garden to strengthen them and ward off infection.