HHH Blog

A Gift of 20, New, Public, Native Oak Tree Saplings by the Rotary Club of Keene

Oh my goodness it’s exciting to see so many of our plant buds swelling, getting ready to burst into color this spring. I write today to share that the Rotary Club of Keene will be inter-planting 20, new, Red and White Oak saplings this spring at our beloved Woodland Cemetery. You may know of this public treasure as I do, a quiet, scenic, open woodland of stunning Oak and Pine trees gracing hundreds of resting former residents, nearly downtown. My daughter learned to ride her first bicycle on the quiet, shady, gravel roads within this treasure. I walk with others daily over the scenic bridge that crosses our meandering Beaver Brook through its bird-filled wetlands.

But as the intensity of our recent storms increases, we have been slowly losing the over 100-year-old Oak and Pine trees that shelter and protect this property. As an environmental professional, I have been pining -pun completely intended, for a new generation of baby, native Oaks to be growing quietly beneath these stunning giants.

Why Oaks in particular when both trees are fabulous powerhouse species for our ecoregion? Maybe you already know the National Wildlife Federation’s guidance tells us that in our area Eastern White Pine is a host plant to 238 species of butterflies and moths. Not only are these beautiful insects but they are important pollinators of our vegetable and fruit plants. Their caterpillars are the necessary ‘hotdogs’ of protein and fats for baby birds. Whereas, Red and White Oaks host over 407 species of butterflies and moths in our area AND they are deeply rooted, making them safer investments. The Bartlett Tree experts tell us “White pines are sensitive to heat, soil pH and the compacted soil common in landscapes. White pine is also one of the tree species most sensitive to air pollution damage.” We now, frequently, see harsh winds toppling over White Pines by their shallow roots.

The Rotary Club of Keene invites parents with their children to register at the Keene Children’s Museum to take part in the planting and protecting of these bare-root, baby trees during school spring vacation,10 AM, Monday, April 22nd. The group sees this, one of their centennial celebration projects, as a climate action, a first step toward more public shade trees throughout our community, an ‘investment in the future generations of our grandchildren’.

I see the action as a unique opportunity, an excellent investment strategy, stacking odds to the trees’ advantage by (1) being planted in early spring before summer’s heat, (2) as native species uniquely adapted to our soil and weather, (3) as seedlings with a balanced 1:1 shoot-to-root ratio versus larger trees that are conventionally planted with less than 10% of their roots, (4) planted in abundant, healthy soil fully able to infiltrate all rain events with both (4 & 5) wildlife protection and moisture-conservation measures. The Rotary of Keene is gifting all of Keene an important example of new shade trees that are best able to reach their full potential for another hundred years with, as treepeople.org illustrates, over twenty-two, environmental, social, physical and psychological benefits.

Definition of Keystone/Powerhouse Plants: https://tinyurl.com/2jmvzryy
NWF Keystone species: https://tinyurl.com/mr2rnsnv
NWF Native Plant Finder: https://tinyurl.com/mr3sbmkx
Bartlett Tree Experts: https://tinyurl.com/35ja9uv5
22 Benefits of Trees: https://www.treepeople.org/22-benefits-of-trees/

-as published in the Mar-27-Apr-2-2024 Monadnock Shopper News https://shoppernews.com/shopper-news/mar-27-apr-2-2024/

Caregivers planting Oaks with Children on Arbor Day in Keene, NH