GARDINER — A group of volunteers is planting trees this week to uphold a deed’s provision that rows of trees must be maintained at the city’s public park on Brunswick Avenue.
Robert Hallowell Gardiner, the grandson of Sylvester Gardiner, a Boston druggist who founded the city of Gardiner, gave the common to the city in 1824.
Dorothy Washburne, chairwoman of the Conservation Committee, said volunteers will be busy today planting eight sugar maples at the park, one of the oldest squares in Maine.
“It’s what Robert Hallowell Gardiner envisioned when he first gave the land for the common,” Washburne said. “In his bequest to the city of Gardiner, he said they should maintain rows of neat and healthy trees.”
Danny Smith, a city historian, said officials were slow to comply with provisions in the deed, so Gardiner revoked his gift 10 years later.
“The city was supposed to landscape the park and put a fence up around it,” Smith said. “Ten years later they hadn’t followed through with their part of the deal, so he actually went to court and reclaimed the land. City officials finally woke up and he re-donated the property and they maintained it.”
Washburne said the $4,400 tree planting now under way is funded by a Project Canopy Grant through the Maine Forest Service. Project Canopy is Maine’s urban and community forestry program.
She said some of the park’s trees have been cut down; others are old and will have to be removed in the next few years. The park has an array of older trees including sugar maples, oak, hazelnut, Norway maple and green ash trees.
She said her committee is being proactive with this week’s plantings.
“When some of the big old trees do have to be taken out, we’ll already have some in there as replacements,” she said. “The ones we’re doing this year are sugar maples. In the future, we may have another type of tree go in there. This is the start of a two-year tree planting plan to try and replace missing trees and ones that need to be cut down.”
Washburne’s group also planted eight red maples on Monday at the city’s parking lot by Cobbossee Stream as part of the city’s Arbor Week celebration.
“We envision this as a green cool space for parking, not just a black-top parking lot,” she said.
Other events planned for Arbor Week include a discussion on the importance of trees with a Girl Scout troop at Christ Church on Monday; the reading of “The Lorax” to second graders at Laura E. Richards school on Wednesday; and on Friday, a free tree-pruning clinic at the Common at 9 a.m. that’s open to the public.
Mechele Cooper — 621-5663
ROBERT HALLOWELL GARDINERRobert Hallowell Gardiner graduated from Harvard and moved to the area in 1803 to manage land he inherited from his grandfather, Sylvester Gardiner, a Boston druggist who founded the city of Gardiner.
Robert Hallowell Gardiner repaired dams, settled property titles, had the land surveyed and laid the cornerstone of Christ Church. He built a church, an inn, a mill and a wharf in the village, which became known as Gardiner. He was also the first mayor. He born in 1782 and died in 1864.
Source: “The Gardiner Story 1849-1949,” by Robert Erskine, Lauren Sanborn and Elmer Colcord