Between the Rows: Planting trees, planting love

  • John Bottomley, Nancy Hazard and Mary Chicoine of the Greenfield Tree Committee plants a tulip poplar tree in the Energy Park last month. For the Recorder/Pat Leuchtman

  • The tulip poplar tree was planted, watered and mulched carefully. The mulch is kept away from the tree trunk. The trees also each got a plastic waterbag to help with sufficient regular watering. For the Recorder/Pat Leuchtman

  • Plants can become root-bound after spending a long time in a container. Do not be fearful and loosen up those roots before planting. For the Recorder/Pat Leuchtman


For the Recorder
Published: 8/10/2018 11:43:41 AM

A couple of weeks ago, I went over to the Energy Park at 7 a.m. for what I thought was a celebratory tree planting. I was surprised that there was no crowd; however, Nancy Hazard, Mary Chicoine and John Bottomley, all of the Greenfield Tree Committee, were hard at work planting two tulip poplars and a disease-resistant elm. It did not take a crowd to make this a celebratory occasion.

Tulip poplars, Liriodendron tulipifera, are not related to tulips or poplars; they are related to magnolias and are very large trees. They can grow to a height of over 100 feet, have a wide spread, produce cupped, fragrant flowers in the spring, and produce striking golden foliage in the fall. The committee planted one of the tulip poplars and the elm to the side of the stage because their large canopies will make afternoon shade for both the performers and audiences at the Energy Park.

Dutch elm disease wiped out nearly all the elms in the country, but a few have survived and hybridizers have created some elms that are resistant to the disease. Elms are also large trees, and particularly notable for their graceful vase shape. The Energy Park is a wonderful location for these trees because there is enough room to accommodate them.

The second tulip poplar has been planted in the shady woodland, sharing space with spring ephemerals and native plants that are attractive to pollinators.

These three trees were paid for in part by a donation by the Greenfield Garden Club which wished to memorialize three of their beloved members who died recently.

Carol Doerpholz was a longtime member of the Greenfield Garden Club. She supported the garden at Trap Plain, organized the Garden Club crafters at the club’s Fall Festival, helped prepare Franklin County Fair exhibits and often opened her garden for tours. Doerpholz was always a hard worker and a great friend.

Nancy Stone was also a longtime member and the club’s main support at the Chamber of Commerce. She often donated original art for the Fall Festival raffles and opened her garden for the tours.

Lastly, there was longtime member Dolly Gagnon, who served as vice president for many years. She assisted with publicity through her Talk of the Towns column for the Greenfield Recorder.

The Greenfield Tree Committee is a 501c3 under the umbrella of the Connecticut River Conservancy. Two weeks ago, I would have wondered why the committee is connected to the River Conservancy, but the other night, we were watching the TV program “10 That Changed America” and saw the episode about 10 parks. Philadelphia is located between two rivers, but it had no good drinking water in the 19th century. Robert Morris Copeland designed a system that raised water to an underground reservoir that then gravity-fed water to the city. Fairmount Park was sited below that reservoir, and more parkland was created by planting forests up river to protect the water. The relationship between trees and clean water was made clearer.

Of course, trees have other functions. They play a part in combating climate change including storing CO2 and releasing oxygen, as well as cooling our cities. They provide a canopy and habitat for wildlife, provide wood for fuel and for furniture, help prevent soil erosion, mask unpleasant views and muffle sounds in the city.

The Greenfield Tree Committee has a social side as well. Its members turn tree plantings into parties. Earlier this spring, working with Boy Scouts and neighbors on Orchard Street, Crescent Street and Spring Terrace, they planted 25 trees, oaks, maples and tulip poplars.

The Tree Committee’s new and ongoing project is working with Greenfield, Montague and the Franklin County Technical School, using a grant from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts to create a tree nursery at the school. This will give students new knowledge and professional skills about growing trees, and it will provide towns with affordable trees beginning five years from now.

Massachusetts poet, teacher and author Lucy Larcom (1824-1893) wrote a poem that captures the gifts a tree bestows beyond ameliorating climate change and helping keep our water clean. The title is basic and clear: “Plant a Tree.” Here are the first two lines of four stanzas.

He who plants a tree — He plants a hope.

He who plants a tree — He plants a joy;

He who plants a tree — He plants peace.

He who plants a tree — He plants love.

I think we can all understand that hope for future pleasures and joy follow the planting of a tree, just as we have all experienced peace beneath summer shade. When we plant a tree, we know that benefits will come to those who follow us, those who are beloved. Hope, joy, peace and love are the gifts that the Greenfield Tree Committee intends for all who spend time at the Energy Park, as well as along every newly tree-lined street.

Pat Leuchtman has been writing and gardening since 1980. Readers can leave comments at her website:


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