This summer we had the pleasure of working with some dedicated students through our Young Adult Forester’s program. We were hard at work in several locations throughout the city; Dodge Park, Knights of Columbus Park, The Eagle Statue on West Boylston Street, Kendrick Ball Fields, home of the Joe Schwartz Little League, and in Green Hill Park’s Memorial Grove. Each of these locations has young trees, planted this spring or last spring, that we tended to all summer. In five weeks we have managed to care for each of them and in some cases truly transform and rejuvenate them, with our team of hard working youth. In Dodge Park, our first ward and ongoing labor of love, we have cleared the arboretum paths and spread fresh mulch to keep the weeds down. We also planted four species that were either missing or needed to be replaced, a Swiss Stone Pine, a Japanese Zelkova, a Sweetgum, and a Tulip Tree. In more recent weeks, in addition to watering the trees, we have taken on the reclamation of a few other locations in the park. The apple tree fruiting wall on the east side of the park had become surrounded by weeds and the trails themselves were becoming overgrown. Our team set out to clear the path and liberate the apple trees and finally did after several hours of effort as a group. We also gathered cardboard to lay down over the area and with volunteers from WPI on their Work on Worcester day we covered that trail with cardboard and mulch as we have done in other parts of the park. This effort, done properly, can offer a few years of weed prevention while the cardboard and then wood chips decompose. It’s a more eco-friendly solution to weed prevention than synthetic tarps or fabrics. In addition to these projects the trees planted along the street, shading the sidewalk for pedestrians, were liberated from weeds and freshly mulched. The sidewalk now feels much roomier and more pleasant to walk down. One of our YAFs, who was able to walk to work, came down this sidewalk every day and said that even though it seems like a small change for each tree it makes a big difference as you’re walking. Another project that we took on was caring for the trees and shrubs we planted at the Knights of Columbus Park near Coes Reservoir. There are over 25 new plants there, mostly evergreen trees and shrubs, that need water each week. We also put mulch around and regularly weeded around each of the plants. Our watering truck team helped with the water for all of the plants near the parking lot which helped a lot. The alternative is to bring 5 gallon buckets filled with water to the park with us and carry them to the trees. This is an effective method and necessary for certain situations but not ideal. We can happily report that these new plants seem to be happy in their new homes and will give the landscape a beautiful verdancy year round. This year we returned to the Greendale Eagle statue on West Boylston Street. This is a small park area next to the old Barber’s Crossing and in front of the train and Saint Gobain factory. The area has benefited from plantings throughout several years. This year we planted 4 Swiss Stone Pines at the north end of the park intending to create a visual barrier to the aging factory building behind in years to come. However it’s not just these plants that we’re caring for, we have also unearthed some overplanted Douglas Fir Trees and created mulch beds around 2 Kousa Dogwoods which were being damaged by mowers trying to reach the grass around their trunks. We also weeded and mulched the 6 Tulip Trees and the garden beds around the statue which has given the whole park a fresh and cared for look. We returned to Kendrick Ball Fields which is just off of West Boylston Street on Brooks Street. Last Spring we planted 10 evergreens between two of the baseball fields. The area was badly overgrown before we planted there and sadly it had returned to that state when we arrived this summer. The students were the most reserved about going into this park because of the sheer magnitude of the task before them but we resolved to liberate the trees and create large mulch beds around them to keep them safe for the rest of the season and hopefully beyond. Using a weed whacker with heavy steel blades on it we blazed a trail through the brush and found each tree. We then cut the weeds out of the trees and dug their roots out from a 6 foot diameter around them and put four inches of mulch around each of the trees. In the process we tried to take extra care not to get poison ivy, which seemed to be carpeting much of the hillside. We’re thrilled to say that as of this week you can see and get to all ten trees and that they are weed free. We hope that they will be able to grow above the weeds and flourish but we expect we will have to go back each year to fight back the growth. And finally, we cared for the trees at Green Hill Park’s Memorial Grove. With nearly 100 trees needing water every week we had quite a job cut out for us there but we’re proud to say we worked out a good system to get the job done. Green Hill Park Association President, Brian McCarthy, rented a truck each week so that we could go out with about 40 buckets and water the trees. We work on a rotation, about half of the buckets are getting filled at any given time while the other half, already filled, is being distributed to the trees. Thankfully we were able to drive the truck through the grove from tree to tree or else we wouldn’t have been able to do this. We also took time to prune these trees, fix stakes to keep them growing upright, and to remove weeds and fix their mulch rings. Every day was filled with productive work and after 7 weeks we really accomplished a lot (if we do say so ourselves!) And this really doesn’t even get into the watering truck’s work, they’ve been doing their part too and they’re faster than ever this year! We’re extremely proud of the impact that these young people have had on the urban forest. They worked very hard and they learned and gained valued experience while working for us this summer. We enjoyed working with last summer’s YAFs and thank them for being part of our team. We look forward to seeing all that they will do in the future; if we’re lucky we may even have the pleasure of working with them again next summer!