Street trees complement redesigned downtown sidewalks – Knox County VillageSoup


CAMDEN – Two ginkgo trees were planted on Main Street in October; the best choice for a sidewalk where trees are subject to adverse conditions such as air pollution and road salt.

Fortunately, Camden is home to professional tree experts and dedicated street tree residents who volunteer their time. This group, along with representatives from the Knox-Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, understood the importance of choosing the right trees to complement the new sidewalk embankments at the downtown intersections where Mechanic and Chestnut streets meet with Highway 1.

The city has long appreciated the beauty of its street trees.

Today more than ever, trees are valued for their heat-reducing shade and oxygen production, which alleviates conditions brought on by climate change. Tree roots and soil absorb rainwater, reducing the flow of water over paved surfaces, and are a component of green infrastructure that builds resilience to extreme weather conditions.

Ginkgo trees are the oldest surviving tree species on earth, estimated to have existed on the planet for 150 million years. These survivors are also highly regarded for their ornamental qualities.

Ginkgo trees were selected for additional qualities suitable for their location by Nancy Caudle-Johnson, a certified arborist from Maine and owner of TREEKEEPERS LLC of Camden, with her husband, Douglas.

The “Autumn Gold” grows in a wide form and the “Princeton Sentry” grows in a vertical, columnar form. Both cultivars are male and do not bear plum-like seeds which would be a nuisance on a busy sidewalk. They can survive by being planted in the typical square hole made in a sidewalk cutout, which is not ideal as tree roots grow horizontally.

This “Princeton Sentry” gingko planted in the new sidewalk of Chestnut Street and Route 1 in Camden is suitable for tight spaces. Photo by Susan Mustapich

The group of people who came together to select and fund the sidewalk trees included Rebecca Jacobs, District Director of the Knox-Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District, Parker Gasset, of the Cooperative Extension and Sea Grant program of the ‘University of Maine Tree Advocate Beedy Parker and Camden Energy and Sustainability Committee member Bridget Conway and Caudle-Johnson, resident, who coordinated Camden’s Arbor Day and Tree City USA programs for 25 years .

Tree planting was carried out by staff from the Public Works Department, headed by Dave St. Laurent. Caudle-Johnson praised the staff, who were patient and willing to do whatever they suggested to make sure the trees thrive. Steps such as removing all the burlap surrounding the roots are sometimes overlooked and can make all the difference in the survival of a newly planted tree, she said.

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