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Shade Tree Commission shortens spring planting

Oak seedling to be planted in memory of Mary Previte.

Ever committed to the greening of Haddonfield — even in a year when the first half of its biannual planting schedule has been shortened due to a multitude of factors — the Shade Tree Commission still intends to make an impact this spring. 

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“We are going to do Arbor Day, but we’re going to take it a little bit differently. We actually are doing a very scaled down planting this spring,”  said Robin Potter, chairperson of the commission, at the public board of commissioners’ April 13 meeting.

“Instead of being 80 trees that we normally plant, we’re deferring that to fall, because with last year’s planting experience and COVID, we weren’t sure that we could count on a full workforce to get the trees planted,” she added. 

The commission intends to get 11 trees in the ground before the season is over, but six of the newest additions are intended to be commemorative trees, paid for by family members, to honor those near and dear to them. Potter said the trees were to be delivered the day after the meeting, with public works employees on the job thereafter. 

Potter later confirmed the trees were delivered on April 14. Public works was to begin the process of digging during the week of April 20, after marking the spots first to make sure no utility lines were in the way. 

The official celebration for Arbor Day is slated for April 30, and Potter mentioned there would be a tree specifically earmarked for planting in front of one of the borough’s schools, to act as an unofficial Arbor Tree for this year. 

On April 20, Potter confirmed the tree will be installed on Glover Avenue, across from the front of Tatem Elementary School, to avoid overhead wires that could cause a problem. The tree is expected to grow to an estimated 60 to 70 feet. 

But the big attraction, one delayed a year because of the pandemic, will be the inclusion of a seedling from the majestic Salem Oak. 

“About two years ago, one of the oldest trees we knew of was a 500-year-old white oak in Salem, New Jersey growing in the Friends’ Cemetery, and it finally fell over,” Potter revealed. “And along the way, the forestry department collected a lot of acorns and they’ve grown them.”

One week prior to the meeting of commissioners, Potter scooped up a 1-foot-tall seedling from the Salem oak. At this point, the seedling is too young for the commission to plant in a fixed place, so the plan is to honor the late Mary Previte by placing the seedling temporarily at her Crows Woods Gardens memorial. 

Roughly two to three years from now, Potter said, the seedling will have grown enough to be permanently planted elsewhere during a future Arbor Day. 

The commission also believes it has found an environmentally friendly solution to the rampage of a beetle native to northeastern Asia that has menaced ash trees nationwide for many years.

“This is really in the face of the emerald ash borer, which is taking out virtually all of the green and white ash trees across the country. There are some treatments that will prolong the life of the tree until the insect cycle passes,” Potter explained.  

Over the last few years, the Shade Tree Commission has enlisted the help of volunteer branch managers to do a trained survey of all the ash trees growing along street sides in Haddonfield. From that count, the organization has chosen a few trees that remained in excellent condition. 

“We worked with Sharon (Borough Administrator McCullough) to find a small treatment program for 10 to 15 of the ash trees,” Potter noted. “We’ve engaged an arborist for it. (The treatments) are going to be safe for residents because they are going to be injected into the tree trunks themselves.” 

Potter added the treatments would last for at least two years. 

“So there’s nothing sprayed, nothing laid down on the ground,” she said. “We will have information out (to residents and the public at large) before it happens, because it’s not happening until June.”

BOB HERPEN
BOB HERPEN
Former radio broadcaster, hockey writer, Current: main beat reporter for Haddonfield, Cherry Hill and points beyond.
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