Lewes was recently named a Tree City USA for the 22nd consecutive year. Achieving the honor is no small task, and one of the requirements to maintain the prestigious status is an observance and proclamation of Arbor Day.
In weather fit for frogs, Sussex Tree owner and certified arborist Jeff Meredith was joined by Lewes Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Janet Reeves, Lewes Tree Commissioner Mardi Thompson, and other officials and residents to plant and discuss the importance of trees. Shovels broke ground in Great Marsh Park at the corner of Park Road and the road leading to the Lewes Unleashed dog park April 28 for the planting of a red oak.
Following the planting, Meredith headed to the Rollins Community Center to provide information about invasive and native species, and how to properly care for trees.
“Invasives are pushing out the natives, due to the fact they they are invasive and they’ve taken over. A good example would be the Tree of Heaven which is located on Lewes Beach,” Meredith said. “There are Japanese black pines, which are not native, and you see them everywhere.”
While Meredith is a proponent of removing invasives, he believes in saving native trees, not removing them. A white oak planted in Stango Park and the red oak added to Great Marsh Park can grow as high as 60 feet and provide birds and other animals with a habitat. Those trees can develop deadwood as they get older. To prevent wood borers, Meredith said, thinning the inside and removing the deadwood is effective.
“Wood borers never come into a healthy tree,” Meredith said. “If a wood borer tries to come in a healthy tree, they will drown it in their sap.”
He said as a tree declines, the wood borer can climb up the tree and inflict fatal damage. Sussex Tree will do injections around sick and diseased trees to try to revitalize them. If that is not necessary, they recommend fertilizer or processed worms.
Native species of trees not only sustain healthier and longer lives, but are also an important part of the local ecosystem. A variety of animals rely on native species for food, shelter and protection. Anyone interested in planting a tree should research which species do best in the environment and the specific location chosen.
The Lewes Tree Subcommittee is working on educational initiatives for residents and has resources on its website at ci.lewes.de.us.