There is a partnership that has grown between two groups whose goals, while not the same, blend the very best in volunteerism for the beautification of their town: Marion Tree Committee and the Marion Garden Group.
For several years now, the MGG has striven to place oases of flowers in previously neglected locations such as the traffic island at the intersection of Spring Street and Route 105 and the south side of Route 6 at the intersection of Front Street, where a grand welcome sign now greets passersby. And there are others that have sprung up along motorways, punctuating the seaside community with resplendence in the form of flowers and greenery.
Not only has the MGG planned floral portraits, the group has also planned numerous fundraisers to pay for these lavish improvements. No small task and one that requires a willingness to work diligently towards a common goal, adding floral motifs to previously forgotten locations, taking them from tired, even dilapidated scenes to living renaissance pictures.
Founded in 1956 to further its members’ knowledge in all things gardening, the MGG now cares for window boxes and planters throughout the town, as well as welcoming and hosting guest speakers on topics of gardening interest.
Coming together with the MGG on November 26 was the Marion Tree Committee. Also a volunteer group established by the Town of Marion decades ago to assist in the management and care of municipal shade trees, on this day they were all working shoulder to shoulder on a special project.
MTC Chairperson and longtime member Margie Baldwin explained the importance of shade trees planted in the right location and the correct type of trees for municipal easements. Standing in Bicentennial Park, Baldwin said that decades ago, American Elms had been planted but over time succumbed to Dutch elm disease, ultimately thinning the shade canopy to a shocking degree. She said that trees planted in the 1950s are also in trouble after years of severe pruning by electric utilities.
The Tree Committee, along with the guidance and assistance of Tree Warden Lee Gunschel and Highway and Parks Supervisor Jody Dickerson, has planted 25 trees this year alone, stated Baldwin. Now the committee prepares to place permanent identification plates on the trees the town has planted, an impressive 24 different varieties.
MGG Chairperson Suzy Taylor said that the group had assisted landscapers in the selection of planting and placement of floral specimens in front of the Town House and Elizabeth Taber Library. She said the group worked on window boxes located at the Marion Art Center and village center spaces.
MGG and MTC member Sylvia Strand noted that the MGG purchased the tree tags for trees planted by the town in an effort to not only heighten the community’s awareness of tree species but also to work with educators in bringing a greater awareness of the importance of trees.
Baldwin said that the Town of Marion has been recognized as a Tree City for over 20 years. To be recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation (established in 1872) as a Tree City, a town must have tree bylaws and ordinances, have a tree board, spend municipal funds on trees and offer community-based programs that celebrate Arbor Day.
Baldwin also noted that when selecting locations for tree planting, the town will oftentimes need the cooperation of private property owners, as overhead utility wires, watering of newly planted trees and roadways must factor in the consideration given to a planting spot.
A small sampling of the types of trees Marion has planted include (common names) Princeton Elms, Sycamore, Cherry Tree, Red Chestnut, Ash, Redbud and Willow Oak.
The MGG and MTC members fanned out across Spring Street to Sippican School, where a number of trees have been planted giving the school building a more harmonious appearance with nature. And here’s a fun fact about the tree tags: They are designed with a spring action so that as the tree’s trunk thickens, the identification plate will not breach the bark.
To learn more about the Arbor Day Foundation, visit arborday.org and to learn more about the Marion Garden Group, visit mariongardengroup.org.
Marion Garden Group and Marion Tree Committee
By Marilou Newell