Snow covered the ground, temperatures were in the 20’s and there was a biting wind in South Buffalo on Thursday, but it was actually a good day to plant trees, said Ed Dore, vice president of Western New York State Nursery and Landscape Association (WNYSNLA). (2017 UPDATE: WNYSNLA is now PLANT WNY.)
Volunteers planted about 115 trees for LEAF a Legacy, part of the National Garden Festival and organized by WNYSNLA. Above, Neil Stern of Gernatt Gravel and Bob Smith of Chestnut Ridge Nursery get ready to plant. (2017 UPDATE: The National Garden Festival is now Gardens Buffalo Niagara.)
LEAF a Legacy evolved from the Front Yard Contest, which provided free landscape makeovers to entire blocks of private homeowners on urban streets facing Olmsted Parks during the National Garden Festival. (See coverage from 2010, 2011 and 2012.) However, because the work was done on private land, funds from the foundation supported by Plantasia and other WNYSNLA endeavors couldn’t be used.
Instead of competing, the landscapers now will join together annually to give a facelift to a public space within Olmsted’s system of parks and parkways.
Trees were planted last week on Dorrance Avenue in South Buffalo in a traffic circle designed by the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The volunteers planted more trees along a stretch of McKinley Parkway heading toward the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens. (See the planting plan for the circle, for the first section of McKinley and the second section.)
Last week’s work will go a long way toward restoring some of McKinley Parkway to Fredrick Law Olmsted’s original vision for a tree-lined street, said Stern, who is on the executive board of the National Garden Festival, is past president of WNYSNLA and is on its foundation’s board.
Funding for the trees comes from the Western New York State Nurseryman’s Foundation, the New York State Nurseryman’s Foundation and ReTreeWNY. Other groups working on this project include the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension.
This is just phase one of the LEAF a Legacy project. Phase two will include the planting of shrubs and decorative garden plants around the circle. That work will take place in July during the fourth annual National Garden Festival.
While the smaller plants can be installed during the National Garden Festival, that’s not a good time to plant trees, Dore said.
Trees to be replanted must be dug up by the end of April. Waiting until the middle of July to plant them means they have to be carefully maintained for more than two months to keep them healthy. Plus, July is a time when we might be experiencing a drought, Dore pointed out. Newly planted trees would have to be watered heavily and often.
It was possible to plant the trees last week because, despite some snow and cold air temperatures, the frost is out of the ground, he said. The trees had just been dug up and were fresh. The ground is nice and moist.
“This is the perfect time,” Dore said.
Homeowners can plant trees now as well, he said, though it will still be a few weeks before garden centers have a large selection of trees.
Trees that were planted included oaks, chestnuts, Washington hawthorns (which get pretty white flowers) and American elms.
Elm trees in the United States were nearly wiped out by Dutch elm disease by the 1970s, but much research has been done in the past 25 on selecting for hardier varieties, said Smith of Chestnut Ridge Nursery.
Mark your calendars:
Plantasia begins with a preview night from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, March 20 sponsored by Buffalo Spree and Lockwood’s Greenhouses. Tickets are $15 pre-sale, $20 the day of event, and free for children under 10. The show will continue from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, March 21 to 23, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 24 at the the Fairgrounds Event Center and Expo Hall, 5820 South Park Avenue, Hamburg. Tickets are $9 general admission or $8 with the coupon.
The National Garden Festival will take place from June 21 to Aug. 4. This six-week-long festival will feature 14 garden walks (including America’s largest – Garden Walk Buffalo), bus tours, open gardens, workshops, speakers and more.