The Colleges ushered in Arbor Day with an event that would have made college founder and noted nurseryman William Smith proud – the successful planting of more than 70 trees on the William Smith Hill as part of a 2012 Tree Campus USA tree planting event.
“There is a history and deep heritage of tree stewardship embedded in this college,” remarked President Mark D. Gearan on Saturday morning when students gathered to help plant the numerous varieties of trees that included elms, sugar and red maples, river birch and some fruit trees – apple, cherry and pear.
“There have never been this many trees planted on this campus at once,” Gearan told the crowd of students and staff assembled to help plant the young trees. “I hope that when you return to the Colleges 10, 20, 30 years from now, you will see this stunning array of trees that now dot the landscape and take pride in the fact that you were a part of this.”
Derek Weiss ’12 also addressed the planters, speaking to the Colleges’ rich relationship with nature and William Smith’s unique connection to the campus’ greenery. “William Smith was a nurseryman, through and through, and the evidence of this persists to this day on our campus,” said Weiss. “Our expansive mature trees are in large part thanks to him. Today we continue to be committed to this heritage of trees, and uphold a strong tradition of being stewards of our urban forest, making this campus community our own natural wonder.”
Both Gearan and Weiss also extended their gratitude to the Colleges’ Buildings and Grounds staff, whose hard work prepared the Hill for the planting – trees lined up, tagged and read to take root.
“We owe a huge deal of thanks to our phenomenal Buildings and Grounds staff,” remarked Gearan. “This campus houses a frightening number of doors, countless feet of sidewalks and beautiful landscaping – there is a lot beautiful campus, and the upkeep is peerless.”
In an effort to care for the newly planted trees, the Colleges have established a 13-member Tree Advisory Committee who will oversee a Campus Tree Care Plan. The campus now contains more than 1,500 trees from 42 genera and 73 species. Other greens-related initiatives on campus include a 2:1 tree replacement policy; mulching of plantings to conserve moisture; and recycling of leaves and grass clippings from campus grounds to compost and later add to soil as an amendment for planting.