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Appleton Farms Tree Care and Renewal Project FAQ

What happened on Arbor Day at Appleton Farms? 

This spring on Arbor Day 2019 (Friday, April 26, 2019) Appleton Farms partnered with the MA Arborists Association, a statewide association of certified arborists, for a volunteer day of donated tree work in celebration of National Arbor Day. More than 300 trained arborists volunteered their time and expertise, as well as their state-of-the-art equipment, to execute a carefully designed large-scale revitalization of the tree collection that included safety pruning and maintenance, new tree planting, large tree transplanting, plant health care, hazard tree assessments, invasive/hazardous tree removal, fertilization, and stump grinding. Over the course of the day, more than 1,200 volunteer hours were donated to The Trustees totaling an estimated $250,000 or more of tree work. Additionally, over $30,000 of new specimen trees were donated to the Farm resulting in a transformational day for the Appleton landscape. 

What is the MA Arborists Association (MAA)? 

MAA is the certifying body for Massachusetts Arborists with 650 members. Several Trustees staff are certified arborists through MAA including JJ Desmond, Steward at Appleton. The Trustees has previously hosted the MAA service day in 2004 at Appleton Farms and 2009 at Castle Hill.  

Why did The Trustees remove trees from the landscape?  

The trees we removed were invasive species, such as Norway Maples, which over time outcompete native species and damage the ecosystem. The trees needed to be removed to restore a healthier ecosystem where native species can thrive. Dead trees and branches were also removed to improve public safety. 

What trees were removed?  

  • The tree crews were dispersed across the property to prune, remove and enhance the trees with special focus on areas of high visitor traffic to remove hazards and create a safer experience. Standing dead trees in these areas were removed as well as trees in significant decline that presented potential hazards.  
  • These areas were restored by removing competing trees that were suppressing the health and vigor of established trees.  
  • The aging landscape of Appleton Farms consists of multiple tree-lined roadways that were in significant decline including the Main Allee connecting the roadway from Route 1A and the roadway (called Mary Lane Road) from the Waldingfield Parking area. This 350’ stretch of roadway consisted of a large amount of decaying Norway Maple trees. To revitalize this aspect of the iconic landscape for the future, the Norway Maple trees were removed and the allee will be replanted. This provides an opportunity to spread trees out more and widen and restore the roadway.  
  • The Appleton Grass Rides allee was also in serious decline. Many trees have fallen through the years without replanting which has created large gaps in the rows. The Norway Maple trees that were there had significant decay resulting in hazardous conditions for visitors.  
  • The Norway Maples along the roadway adjacent to the Appleton Dairy Barn were removed because their decay was posing a serious threat to the Dairy Barn structure.  

What’s wrong with Norway Maples?  

Norway Maples are an invasive species. They are very fast-growing trees whose roots grow close to the surface of the ground often suffocating others. They “leaf out” earlier than all other trees meaning they shade and prevent growth for others. Sales of Norway Maples are currently banned in Massachusetts. Norway Maples tend to be the trees that come down in high wind storms due to their fragile structure.   

What is happening with the removed material?   

Some of the wood will be chipped and used on the property for pathways and landscaping. Some of the chips will be sent to a biomass plant for fuel.  Most of the trees were dead or in poor condition, so there was not a significant amount of lumber. Stumps from removed trees and existing stumps are being ground down to prevent basal root growth and provide a clean space for new plantings. 

What are you planting? 

  • To revitalize the landscape and protect the historic integrity and beauty of the property, The Trustees will begin to replant significant areas where trees have been removed. To begin diversifying the species across the property for a more resilient landscape, The Trustees will be planting new trees along the 350’ main allee, along the dairy road, and along the Appleton Farms Grassrides pathway.  
  • Additional trees will be planted in place of removed Norway Maples near buildings and a ceremonial tree was planted on Arbor Day to replace the decaying maple tree in the stone paddock area.   
  • The main allee will be replanted with Silver Linden, tilia tomentosa, which rises 50’-70’, pyramidal shade when young and upright oval to pyramid in old age. Silver lindens are good street trees that can tolerate heat and drought better than other lindens and is overall less prone to insects and untidiness and acts as a good residential planting as a beautiful ornamental shade tree. This selection will bring variety and diversity to the Appleton Farms roadways.  
  • Along the Appleton Farms dairy barn, the American Elm cultivar Ulmus americana ‘Princeton’ will be planted. The ‘Princeton’ grows quickly, 1.6 m per annum, and is distinguished by dense, symmetrical, upright form and dark green foliage, forming a broad umbrella crown.  
  • Planting for the Main Allee, Grassrides and dairy road will take place in the weeks after Arbor Day, April 26 to ensure the extraction of stumps and preparation of the soil and will be planted in partnership with community volunteers and The Trustees stewardship team at Appleton Farms.   
  • The stewardship team has a watering and maintenance plan in place to secure the health and vitality of newly planted trees throughout the spring and the fall.  

What are the goals of the project?  

The goals of this project are to improve the long-term ecological health and stewardship of the trees and forests at the farm in order to revitalize the landscape at Appleton Farms, develop tree care and maintenance best practices and engage a community in the conservation of the trees through a new volunteer Tree Stewards program and a tree-survey monitoring and maintenance program.  

As part of our ongoing care and conservation of all Trustees’ special places, and for the health of the ecosystem and the safety of our staff and visitors, our stewardship teams are continuously working to reduce tree overcrowding and identify and remove invasive trees and others that are failing or have reached their natural end of life. Through this partnership, the MAA provided Appleton Farms the opportunity to address a backlog of maintenance, remove trees in significant decline and begin a phased replanting to create a more resilient landscape with greater age and species diversity.   

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© 2019 The Trustees of Reservations
The Trustees is a 501c3 nonprofit organization
Est. 1891