Friday, April 23, 2010

4/24/10: Breathe Green Esopus!

To celebrate Earth Day, the Town of Esopus Environmental Board is holding its fourth annual tree and shrub seedling giveaway for Town of Esopus residents on April 24 at the Town of Esopus Library, 128 Canal Street, Port Ewen. Residents of the Town of Esopus can pick up seedlings from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM during the "Breathe Green Esopus" event.

The seedlings are available free of charge. Pre-ordering is not necessary. Residents can just stop by and select seedlings that fit their planting needs.

The species of seedlings available include Northern Bayberry, Wild Raisin and Dwarf Sand Cherry. Each resident is entitled to three seedlings of any variety, as supplies last.

Planting trees and shrubs reduces erosion, provides food and shelter for wildlife, adds value to properties, filters water pollutants and sequesters carbon dioxide. In addition, planting species native to New York, such as Northern bayberry, wild raisin and sand cherry is preferable to planting invasive foreign plants, which may crowd out native species of not only plants, but the insects, birds and animals that rely on them. The benefits of planting a seedling magnify over the years, and last for a generation or more. The specific attributes associated with the seedlings being offered are as follows:

Northern Bayberry
A remarkably versatile shrub, this sun-loving shrub is tolerant of a wide range of soil types, but as one of the few shrubs which can fix nitrogen, Northern Bayberry can grow well on even the poorest sandy soils. The leaves make great potpourri, and the waxy gray berries are the source of fragrant bayberry candles. The berries are held well into winter and are eaten by many bird species. Bayberry makes a fine urban or roadside shrub because of its high tolerance for salt spray and its resistance to insect pests and diseases. It can be pruned as a hedge or allowed to spread as a low maintenance ground cover shrub.

Wild Raisin
Also known as Withe-rod for its long flexible shoots, Wild Raisin is most notable for its clusters of berries, which turn from pink to red to dark blue, often showing multiple colors in a single cluster. When the berries finally turn black, they are fully ripe and can be eaten. The flat-topped clusters of small white flowers are attractive in contrast to the glossy, somewhat leathery, green leaves. In fall, the leaves turn multiple shades of red. Although Wild Raisin grows well on a variety of sites, it is more tolerant of wet conditions than many viburnums, and makes a nice addition to a riparian site.

Dwarf Sand Cherry
One of the few naturally prostrate native shrubs, Dwarf Sand Cherry grows less than 18 inches high, but develops long creeping branches that develop roots where they touch the ground. Its low spreading habit and extensive roots make Dwarf Sand Cherry valuable for stabilizing slopes. It also makes a beautiful shrub for urban planting, especially where its branches can trail from raised beds or across gravel mulch.

Residents should plan to plant the bare-root seedlings as soon as possible. Instructions and advice will be available at the event. DEC Community Forester Lou Sebesta will be available to answer questions about tree planting, tree pruning and all other tree-related questions.
The Environmental Board is a volunteer advisory board to the Town of Esopus. Board members will be available to discuss energy efficiency, recycling, natural resources and other local environmental issues.

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