thanks, spalding volunteers!

Ten years from now, Spalding Circle will be shadier, greener and more beautiful than it is today, thanks to the dozens of  volunteers who showed up this morning to plant 25 new trees that will replace  trees that have died there in recent years, leaving the parklet looking, well, bare.  In fact, the green space  at the entrance to Woodhaven and Longuevue Drives already looks better, even though the trees awarded to Mt. Lebanon Nature  Conservancy as the result of a TreeVitalization grant administered by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy are only 5 to 8 years old and thus not yet very tall.

A Western Pennsylvania Conservancy forester showed volunteers the proper way of planting a tree.

The Spalding Circle beautification resulted from  a “succession plan” created in 2010-11 by the ad hoc Arboretum Committee to replace mature trees that have  died or are dying.  Ron Block, now president of Mt. Lebanon Nature Conservancy, and Janice Seigle, both landscape designers took the lead on the project. They selected  a variety of trees that will be beautiful in all four seasons, as well as suitable for long-term survival in this climate zone, including Black gum, Bald Cypress, Homestead Elm, Sourwood, Horse Chestnut, Cornelian Cherrry, Kentucky Coffeetree and Bur Oak. They also drew up the plan for where the trees would be planted, taking into consideration the many ways in which the park is used.  The Commission liked the plan but was unable to fund it.  So everyone was thrilled three weeks ago to learn that Mt. Lebanon had been selected as a TreeVitalize grant recipient.  The trees are worth nearly $6,000; public works provided mulch, equipment and some labor.  The rest was up to the volunteers.

A public works crew dug the holes beginning at 7 a.m. this morning.  By 9 a.m. volunteers, shovels in hand,  were paying close attention to a Western Pennsylvania Nature Conservancy forester’s demonstration of the correct way to plant a tree.  By 10 a.m. teams were hard at work,  and the park’s new look was easy to envision.

Safety concerns voiced by several residents were addressed.  Eight large older trees that were destined to die within the next few years were removed, and the lower end of the “bowl” is now a tree-free area that can be used for pickup softball and soccer games and other informal recreation.

Nature Conservancy president Ron Block
Nature Conservancy president
Ron Block

Block thanked the volunteers and the municipality for coming together quickly to complete the planting according to the schedule specified by the grant. “When the letter came, I had to ask a lot of very busy people to become even busier on short notice,” he said.  The public information office, the commissioners, public works, local master gardeners and busy parents with children all pulled together to make this happen on short notice. No one was too busy or too disinterested to do what was necessary.  I am proud to live in a community that has such capable people.”

Commissioners Matt Kluck and Kelly Fraasch were on hand for the event.  Before  literally digging in, Fraasch thanked the volunteers, and in particular Ron Block, on behalf of the community and previous commissions that had helped shape the plan.

If you’re in the Markham area, stop by, take a look and use your imagination to envision how much the new trees will be appreciated by residents in the decades to come.

Photography by Katelynn Metz

Video clip by Susan Morgans