The Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) will soon be home to a native tree nursery.
“We have marked the site and completed soil testing and the next step is to get the site tilled and apply compost,” explained Betty Muise.
Muise is the program coordinator for the Blue Mountains chapter of the Tree Trust, a registered charity that was established by the Elora Environment Centre in June 2019 and focuses on preserving heritage trees through arborist care.
TBM was the third community in Ontario to join the Tree Trust initiative in 2020, following Stratford and the Toronto Islands. TBM's neighbouring municipality, Meaford also opened a Tree Trust chapter earlier this year.
The concept of establishing a native tree nursery in TBM began after Muise received several suggestions from interested community members during a Tree Trust event.
The municipality has since agreed to allow the Tree Trust’s tree seedling nursery to be sited at the town-owned Tomahawk Recreation Complex in Thornbury.
“Blue Mountain Fruit Company (in Thornbury) have offered to help us get the site tilled. Then we can apply compost,” Muise continued.
She said the project has seen tremendous support from the community, and is currently well-stocked with volunteers, but added that there may be a need for additional hands as fall arrives.
“Later in the fall we might need some help. Also, in August or September, we will put out a call to landowners if they have legacy trees that have produced a good seed crop and/or if they have seedlings that we can dig up,” she said.
Along with launching the nursery, TBM’s Tree Trust chapter has been actively making plans to address heritage trees across the municipality.
“We have completed one tree so far this summer and because of COVID-19, this was not a public event,” Muise explained.
On June 25, the Tree Trust coordinated arborist care for a 140-year old sugar maple in the Thornbury-Clarksburg Union Cemetery.
“The sugar maple at the cemetery presented several issues needing attention including the presence of a large cavity in the main trunk,” Muise explained.
Tobias Effinger of Arboreal Tree Care and his team examined the large cavity and were able to determine that the tree was successfully creating new wood at the edges of the cavity. In order to create the conditions favouring growth of new wood, and reduce fungal spread, the team carefully cleaned the cavity.
James Houghton of the Arboreal Tree Care team also completed work in the upper canopy, removing carefully selected limbs and sections of limbs that are vulnerable to structural failure due to poor attachment.
Muise explained that limb reductions like this are preventative against injury but also increase tree vitality by stimulating new growth closer to the centre and the proximal vascular system of the tree.
“Our next tree will be on Aug. 13 and it will have a celebration event. Our third tree is scheduled for Sept. 23 and we will try for another tree in October,” Muise added.
The Aug. 13 event will be held to address another aging sugar maple in the Thornbury-Clarksburg Union Cemetery.
“This tree is a special one for TBM residents, with several residents getting in touch with Tree Trust to specifically request that this tree receive some care. Residents enjoy this tree on morning and afternoon walks and have noted its advanced age (estimated to be more than 100 years old) and stately and beautiful form,” explained Muise.
The event will be open to the public and is expected to begin at 9 a.m.. The celebration will feature a dedication, a presentation on the role of older trees in our ecology, and aerial climbing and tree tending in action.
“Hopefully gathering limits will remain at 100 but if not, the event will be limited to the COVID-19 regulations in effect, with admissions on a first-come, first-served basis if needed,” Muise added.