I haven't blogged yet about the RI Tree Council's Tree Steward class, which I started taking right after my master gardener class ended. In eight classes, we covered topics including tree biology, how to plant and prune, tree identification, tree pests & diseases, the effects of development, caring for trees in the urban environment, community forestry, and tree inventories.
The class has totally changed the way I look at trees. I've always loved trees and consider myself "pro-tree" in the sense that I hate it when people cut down trees. When we moved into our house, it was clear that we needed to prune the trees way back out of our yard to improve air flow and get them away from the house–and we did it but I hated doing it. And when a neighbor senselessly cut down 20 trees, I was sickened.
Even so, I didn't understand trees or their needs. I took them somewhat for granted and didn't realize how much care they need in urban and suburban environments. Everywhere I go now, I look at trees in a different light. In urban areas, I check to see if they have been given enough room for their roots to grow without pushing up sidewalks. I look at how close they are to power lines and check on how the utility companies are pruning them. I look at new plantings to see if they've been planted too deep or if they've been mulched improperly–two of the most common problems with new plantings.
The Tree Steward classes will end this weekend after a hands-on workshop on pruning and planting. Then, class members are asked to complete 30 volunteer hours before obtaining the official "Tree Steward" designation. I know–more volunteer hours! Between the master gardener, master composter, and tree steward programs, I'm on the hook for over 100 volunteer hours.
But, there's something about caring for trees that's different even from gardening. Landscaping a yard with trees and shrubs is much more permanent that creating a garden, which is usually temporary. Gardens change as the owner changes…and as the owners change. Trees are forever….if we care for them properly.
This summer, I've taken work caring for new tree plantings in a Providence park. Expect to see pictures and hear lots about trees this summer!
Photo courtesy of The National Arbor Day Foundation.