It’s hard to believe but we’re coming to the end of our Young Adult Foresters Summer program, generously sponsored by Massport’s Summer Jobs grant. It’s been a fun and highly productive summer. We watered 450 trees a week between our two teams! More than 100 trees have been cleared of weeds and protected for the year to come with a thick blanket of mulch. And the groundwork has been laid for even more planting in the weeks and months to come! All of this is thanks to the hard work of 10 young men and women from 10 different schools and backgrounds, who have accepted the responsibility of waking up early during their summer vacation to get to work on time. They work hard, even when it’s hot, or they’ve pulled their thousandth weed for the day, or they’ve had to haul 40 pounds of water up-hill. They are admirable young men and women, and we’re thankful we’ve been able to spend our summer with them. Our two teams this summer were a street tree watering team and a tree care team. The watering team is our original summer job program which waters the street trees planted by the city. The tree care team is a newer element we have added for the past couple of years which allows us to follow up with trees WTI or our partners have planted in past years which require additional attention. The watering team gets the fun task of driving throughout the city to newly planted street trees in our watering truck, a large pickup truck outfitted with a 200 Gallon tank and a pump to get water to the trees. A full tank typically allows us to water about 20 trees before we have to refill. In order to refill our tank the city has given us special permission to access hydrants in strategic areas near groups of trees that we are watering. This year the truck watered an average of 400 trees a week which were widely dispersed throughout the city. Each year the city plants hundreds of street trees and for the past 8 years we have watered each new planting, ensuring they get what they need to establish their roots and live a long life. We’ve had the pleasure of seeing a real urban forest grow before our eyes! This year our tree care team tended to trees in 5 parks and on streets in 3 different neighborhoods. Each of these places had its own challenges, and all of them look much better than when they started. We spent time in each of them weekly in order to keep the trees healthy, the locations beautiful, and to prepare some of them for even greater improvements. By far the greatest portion of our time this year was spent in Dodge Park, especially the arboretum. Our office is located less than a mile away and the work is virtually endless so we go there a lot. The biggest task at Dodge Park is liberating trees and shrubs so people can appreciate their beauty and so the trees won’t become overgrown by their competition. It’s amazing all of the different things we find growing there throughout the growing season. We’ve pulled out multiflora rose, nettles, goldenrod, sumac, crabgrass by the ton, and poison ivy, just to name a few! We’ve also seen squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and new this year, groundhogs, plus loads of birds and evidence of deer. It’s a literal urban jungle in there! Besides pulling weeds we have also been moving literal tons of mulch to cover the freshly cleared areas and also the trail running through the arboretum area. The space has been transformed, and we’re very proud of the fact that people can now walk through the arboretum and see the trees, which are getting so big! Now that the oldest trees roots are well established each branch seems to grow a foot each year! We’ve also given attention to trees at the Kendrick ball fields, Knights of Columbus Park, Eagle Statue, and Green Hill Park. Kendrick, Knights of Columbus, and Eagle Statue each have trees that we planted in them and we are continuing to provide aftercare for them by keeping weeds away, refreshing the mulch rings, and watering them. Green Hill Park has been all about watering the many young trees planted there in the past few years. Due to the rainy forecasts projected for so many days this summer (whether it materialized or not) our bucket brigade didn’t get to water Green Hill Park’s Memorial Grove each week but we have done it for 4 of the 7 weeks, and our watering truck has watered there every week. The so called “bucket brigade” literally carries buckets of water, filled in the park and driven out to the grove in a pickup truck, to 90 trees and gradually pours them out so the water soaks into the soil. It’s time consuming and it’s a work out but I’m happy to say the grove is looking good. This fall we will be replacing the few that didn’t survive in preparation for the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the end of World War I, on November 11th. On that day the grove and the new monument (currently being constructed) will be rededicated in honor of Worcester’s citizen’s who gave the last full measure of devotion to our country all those years ago. As if we didn’t have our hands full enough we also took on weeding projects on Franklin Street between the Library and the City Square development, Providence Street, and West Boylston Street between Saint Gobain and Brooks Street. Tower Hill is adopting the island in front of the Library and will be beautifying this 200 foot stretch this fall with a plan created by their horticulture team. The nearly quarter of a mile stretch along West Boylston Street has long been one of our pet projects. In 2014 the land was cleared, covered in mulch, and planted with 25 flowering cherry trees spaced throughout. In the intervening years we have watered the trees and kept them weeded, but this year required a greater effort to maintain the area. In addition, this fall we will be planting ornamental grasses in between the trees to help fill the space more and increase the beauty of the area. As a gateway to the city we really want this stretch to stand out as beautiful, well tended, and welcoming. We are so appreciative to Massport giving us the opportunity to run this program once again this summer. And we can’t thank our teams enough, they have given us and this city a lot of time and effort this summer and we are all the beneficiaries. We hope to see many of our team members join us again next summer year, and to those who are moving on to do great things in their careers, we wish you well!