On a recent spring afternoon, despite cool, cloudy, wet weather, an intrepid group of folks ranging in age from 5 weeks to 80-something gathered at Ballantine Park to embark on a Tree Walk sponsored by the Andes Public Library and the Andes Gazette. Led by Catskill Forest Association’s Executive Director Jim Waters, the group meandered through the hamlet from the park to High Street at Ballantine Manor, looking and learning along the way.
Right from the beginning Jim pointed out a weakness in much village, and domestic planting: the same species planted at the same time. That’s why you can see one street of older maples succumbing almost at once to old age, or another entire area of Dutch elms wiped out by disease. His advice is to plant trees of different species and with varying life expectancies, as well as continuing the planting process over time. He also stressed that we should not, in general, plant trees which are not native to the area. Jim was emphatic that Norway maples shouldn’t be encouraged. They are so prolific, forming a dark canopy which prevents any but their own seeds from taking root, that they can lead to monoculture. Norway spruce, on the other hand, which have been around for 200 years, and the sycamores, also a well established immigrant, are O.K.
Jim spoke of the vulnerability of maple and ash. The longhorn Asian beetle loves sugar maples, and to assure that you are rid of it (First learn the difference between this beetle and the sawyer beetle, which is not a threat.), you have to remove every single tree and quarantine the area. Ash is susceptible to the emerald ash borer, presently an extreme pest in the Lake States. To be successful in protecting an area from this menace, it may be necessary to chip and burn all ash trees within 1/10 of a mile. This can be difficult to implement as it is hard to get permission from all property owners. Many have a natural inclination to keep their trees alive!
Along Main Street Jim pointed out things we probably wouldn’t notice on our own: how the huge Norway spruce in front of Louise Redden’s home (healthy, he proclaimed, and probably good for another 100 years) produces a tree out of a tree, i.e. a new trunk springing upward from a protruding branch. We also were alerted to the multiple perforations in the trunk of a small leaf linden (a good tree, by the way, to plant along a street as it stays small, and its roots don’t disturb sidewalks like those of a bigger tree). These multiple borings were made by the yellow-bellied sapsucker in search of insects. Too many holes and the tree is weakened. Jim also pointed out apple trees on front lawns, a good choice as they are resilient and don’t spread out too much. Looking at domiciles, he reminded us of the wisdom of planting deciduous trees on the southern exposure (their foliage offers shade and keeps out excess sun in the warm months and allows light and warmth to enter in winter when the leaves are gone) and evergreens on the northern and western exposures as a windscreen.
Jim also reviewed for us the difference between red maple, sometimes called soft maple, and the hard maples. The leaves of the red maple, which is so called as its buds and blossoms are bright red, are very serrated. The species is salt tolerant and grows fast, and is therefore a better maple choice for a street tree. It should definitely be kept away from porches as the angle at which its limbs grow causes them to break in ice storms (and potentially cause damage to a porch). ~