OLD LYME — The Old Lyme (OL) Tree Commission welcomes all town residents to come and pick up native tree seedlings to plant in their yards. The Commission’s first ‘Tree Seedling Giveaway’ will be held Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall.
Residents can select up to three trees – a choice of either White Dogwood or Eastern Redbud for a flowering tree, a choice of either Sugar Maple or Scarlet Oak, which grow well in some shade, and an evergreen.
The plants were purchased from the Arbor Day Foundation while the pots and soil were donated by Mark and Belkys Comstock, owners of The Kingsville Grower in Old Lyme, where commissioners potted up the seedlings earlier this week.
“We need to start a new generation of trees,” said Joanne DiCamillo, OL Tree Commission Chair. “Over the years, diseases, insect pests, drought, climate change and roadside salt have all taken their toll. We had to take down a lot of old trees that had died.”
Since 2018, the town has taken down 148 trees and the commission planted 10 trees, according to DiCamillo. So the Commission decided to enlist the community’s help to plant more trees. And then fortuitously, Mark Comstock showed up at one of their monthly meetings and offered to help with materials and to provide a spot to pot up the seedlings.
DiCamillo continued, “We need new cover in the Town of Old Lyme, with residents helping us by planting the trees of the future in their yards now. That will really be helpful.”
The commission researched the best place to purchase the tree seedlings and decided on the Arbor Day Foundation. The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen then endorsed the commission’s proposal to spend $450.00 of its budget on the trees.
“We agreed that purchasing 250 seedling trees would be more practical and enable us to give them away to the Old Lyme community, as opposed to charging a fee for them,” explained DiCamillo.
She added, “Keeping in mind our primary goal to ‘Plant Native,’ we selected five native species that would be wonderful sources of food and shelter for wildlife, songbirds, bees, deer, squirrels, butterflies, and so on. We focused on trees that we thought would appeal to homeowners, and eventually provide color, beauty and shade to their property and become an asset to our town’s landscape.”
The Tree Commission will provide written instructions with the plants at the ‘Giveaway’ on Saturday.
The Arbor Day Foundation recommends that residents, who take the potted seedlings, should get them into the ground as rapidly as possible, ideally in a garden border or bed where they can nurture it. Avoid direct sunshine areas. Gently spread out the roots, do not plant the tree too deeply, keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Mulch around the seedling is also very important so that the tree’s roots do not dry out.
Plan to water the trees regularly throughout this summer and well into the fall. Young trees and shrubs need regular watering for at least two years after planting.
“Rain or shine, we will be there,” said DiCamillo.
The Old Lyme Tree Commission is very grateful to the Comstocks, who made their nursery available to members to pot the seedlings. Comstock also provided advice and materials. Comstock grew up in Ivoryton but subsequently moved out of state. He returned to Connecticut about 10 years ago with his wife and young son to open his current business. Comstock also is well known in the world of bonsai for growing pre-bonsai specimens.
Stop by to see Comstock’s plants at the nursery at 146 Neck Rd. and watch for more information about The Kingsville Grower/Hydrangeas Galore in future LymeLine.com coverage.