Maples, Locusts, Elms, Lilacs
Among Trees Going Downtown
By JIM KEVLIN • allotsego.com
COOPERSTOWN – Norwegian sunset maples. Skyline honey locusts. Harvest gold lindens. Homestead elms. Emerald sunshine elms. Ivory silk lilacs.
These enticingly named trees will be planted along the north side of Main Street in late October and early November, according to Jim Kisker of Schichtel’s Nursery in Springville, near Buffalo.
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“These are types of trees that historically are planted in sidewalk cutouts in urban areas successfully,” he said. “You can see many that are successful in cities, towns and villages.”
The trees were selected in collaboration with Trustee Cindy Falk, who as chair of the Streets Committee has been overseeing the sidewalk project, and the village’s Tree Committee, chaired by Ruth Ayres.
Shichtel’s has been in the business for 50 years, growing trees on 1,370 at 21 farms in western New York. All Season Landscaping in Lowville will install the trees.
The trees replace those removed for the $2 million sidewalk replacement project, completed on the north side of Main in the spring; work on the south side is expected to resume any day, with an aim to complete the work this year, weather permitting.
The trees had to meet a range of qualities, said Falk.
Foremost, they have to be “appropriate for a rain garden, so that means they have to have ‘wet feet’.” The project is designed to capture water that now flow directly into Otsego Lake and the Susquehanna and to strain it through the soil before entering the lake and river.
But they also have to grow within a confined space and be tolerant of street salt.
Some communities plant one variety for consistency, but that was rejected here. “If we are hit down the road with some sort of blight or insect, or something that going to affect the trees, it’s better to have a mix than to have the whole same variety,” Falk explained.
“We have a mix now, and that adds some visual interest, and we’re looking to put that kind of mix back.”
Plantings will begin once the trees are “dormant” for the winter, said Kisker.
“The trees will start to grow into their new home, and not be forced into waking up and growing as they are in the springtime,” he said. This will give them the chance to expand their root system during a time of minimum stress, so they are more likely to survive the more rigorous conditions of next spring and summer.
Falk said there are 17 “boxes” on the north-side walks to accommodate the new trees, 11 for bigger trees, six for smaller trees, she said. The trees will be 12-14 feet tall when planted, but will grow up to 50 feet, about 10 feet taller than most of the buildings along the north side of the street.
They will grow to 25-30 feet in girth, sufficiently narrow to fit alongside the buildings.
Kisker was reluctant to estimate how quickly the trees will grow, because it depends on conditions. “The first two years,” he said, “they are getting re-acclimated and established. Once you get into the third year, we start to pick up a little more branch and shoot extension.”
Most critical to the trees’ success is that they are sufficiently watered next summer, Kisker said. They need 20-30 gallons one a week, but applied slowly, using bags called Treegators, which create a slow drip