2023 Treasured Trees Nominations

2023 Treasured Trees – Nominate Your Treasured Tree today!


In addition to a town wide Arboretum on public land, The Greenwich Tree Conservancy’s Treasured Trees Program highlights special trees on private properties to create respect for the many beautiful and unique trees to be found throughout our community.

Click here for more details on Treasured Trees and how to nominate your tree.

Greenwich Sentinel: Why Plant Native Trees?

By Mary Shaw Marks

Did you know that Governor Ned Lamont designated April 2023 as Connecticut Native Plant Month. Upon learning of the accelerating loss of native trees and plants from the Garden Club of America, Governor Lamont chose to act.

Why is this significant? It is quite natural to take trees for granted. After all, we were born into this green garden of Eden. Along the way we’ve upset the critical balance nature provides by replacing plants native to our region with large expanses of lawn and exotic imported trees. While these landscapes may look pretty, to a caterpillar that our birds feed upon they are about as nutritious as a parking lot.


The native trees in our yards play a critical role in providing food and habitat for our pollinating insects, birds, and bees. When there are no native trees to supply food, there are very few insects, and if there are no caterpillars, there are no birds. Our own human food system also depends on a healthy insect population for pollination.

Why is this? Most insects have co-evolved with native trees and plants over millions of years and rely on them to generate their food. Plants don’t want to be eaten so they have developed their own defenses, thus creating a balance where they are nibbled, not destroyed, and insects have their dinner. This explains why many caterpillars only eat certain plants, like milkweed, and why native trees may be very healthy despite having a few holes in their leaves. This co-evolution supports a complex web of life.


Well known expert and author of The Nature of Oaks, Douglas Tallamy, explains that North America has over 90 native species of Oaks hosting more than 897 species of caterpillars. These caterpillars fuel the food web with more species dependent on oaks than on any other plant. He notes that you really can bring an enormous amount of life into your yard by planting them and how well suited they are to suburban landscapes as you can easily plant underneath them as they grow tall. It appears the White Oak tree is Connecticut’s state tree for good reason.

In the runner up categories, you have the beautiful Pussy Willow feeding 400+ species. Black Cherry and American Plum support 400+ with flowers full of life in spring when Weeping and Ornamental Cherry provide scant food. River Birch, White Birch and Shaggy Birch are stars at 400+ with the shaggy bark offering many great nesting and hang-out spots. Both native and imported Crabapples host 300+, one of few imported species to provide nutritious nectar. Red and Sugar Maple come in with 280+ and are a great alternative to Japanese and Norway Maples which support little life. White Pines host 200+ and are great in woodlands. Like Silver Maples, they drop limbs and not recommended in yards. Native Dogwood has splendid spring flowers and berries that ripen in the fall exactly when birds need to fatten up.

Smaller understory trees such as Serviceberry and Redbud have early spring flowers and berries and seeds birds love. Native evergreens such as Eastern Red Cedar, Eastern White Pine, and American Holly provide food and places to shelter year-round. Seek out native and not cultivated varieties for the biggest impact.

We are currently experiencing an insect apocalypse, a crashing of our life supporting population. While we may happily celebrate the relative lack of annoying mosquitoes and flies, this is an ecological disaster. Since 1970 we have lost one third of our bird population. One third. Most especially the “backyard birds” whose songs we associate with spring days and time spent outdoors. In most yards 92% of green space is lawn, 75% of the plants are alien, and 10% are invasive, all planted by homeowners like us.


Suburbs represent an opportunity and gardening is taking on a critical role. It is now within the power of individual homeowners to make a difference with the selection of trees and plants they choose. Think of that busy mother chickadee whose baby requires 3,000 caterpillars before leaving the nest!

In choosing trees to plant this growing season consider one of these stars that will offer you many years of beauty, shade and clean air while hosting and feeding the birds that sing to you each morning. The Greenwich Tree Conservancy works to plant, preserve, and protect wisely for the future health of our magnificent local ecosystem. The lush green garden we all take for granted.

he Greenwich Tree Conservancy is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the trees of Greenwich for the benefit of community health and quality of life.

Mary Shaw Marks is a member of the Greenwich Tree Conservancy Board of Directors

This story originally appeared at  https://www.greenwichsentinel.com/2023/05/06/column-why-plant-native-trees/

Greenwich Sentinel: Greenwich Tree Conservancy Tree Party brings a young crowd of tree lovers together

GTC Tree Party co-chairs Shari Aser James on left and Ellie Jenkins with their gift certificates of trees to planted in their names. Photo by Bob Capazzo.

By Anne W. Semmes

They came in droves, the tree lovers, over 250, to celebrate the accomplishments of the now 16-year-old Greenwich Tree Conservancy (GTC), surrounded by explosions of color from a host of flowers laid out now for a twelfth year at McArdle’s Greenhouse. Guests were served sumptuous hors d’oeuvres from Happiness Is placed on those tree slice trays, with cocktails offered courtesy of Val’s Putnam Wines & Liquors.

GTC Chairman Peter Malkin and wife Isabel were not present in such a thick gathering but were represented by son-in-law Senator Richard Blumenthal who arrived with his walker having suffered injuries when a “fellow parade goer” tripped and fell upon him.

“I have the honor of representing Greenwich and the rest of Connecticut in the United States,” said Blumenthal, adding, “But more importantly, I am Peter and Isabel’s son-in-law. And so, I have to really mind what I say tonight! I’m so proud to be a Greenwich resident, to call Greenwich home. To have raised four children here with the kind of civic engagement and activism that the Greenwich Tree Conservancy demonstrates. So, please join me in a big round of applause for Urling Searle [GTC President], and JoAnn Messina [GTC Executive Director]. Thank you, JoAnn for your incredible leadership over so many years.”

Messina has presided over the planting of some 5,000 trees in Greenwich, along with the labelling of a thousand trees in the Town’s Arboretum. Add two more as Tree Party co-chairs, Shari Aser and Ellie Jenkins were recognized for their efforts by Searle with two trees to be planted in their names with their choice of where those trees are to be planted in town.

GTC President Urling Searle and GTC Executive Director JoAnn Messina. Photo by Bob Capazzo.

Aser stole a moment in her thanks to share the impact the Tree Conservancy has had on her life. “Exactly 12 years ago tonight,” she told, “I met my husband in this room, at this event.” “Clearly,” she added with a smile, “I had to co-chair the event eventually and plant many more trees… And I’m very glad [husband] Bill James asked me out after the event!”

“What a great night,” declared First Selectman Fred Camillo to the crowd. “It’s a week that we celebrate Arbor Day, daffodils, and Greenwich Tree Conservancy. And it shows that Greenwich is really a green town, and we treasure things like our trees.”

Worth adding here what Blumenthal also shared: “You know there’s an old saying that the sign of generosity is to plant a tree whose shade you will never enjoy. Looking around at this crowd, I think all of you are going to be around for the trees that we are planting – this is a very young crowd.”

So, perhaps the Town’s Tree Warden Dr. Greg Kramer who was present and thanked by our First Selectman for his tree-planting efforts might be the one to consult on tree choices to plant and where to plant. When asked by this reporter what might be his choice of ten trees to plant in Town, he came up with a list of “Top Ten” choices with full descriptions. See his choices listed separately here in the Sentinel!

Read the full story at https://www.greenwichsentinel.com/2023/05/05/greenwich-tree-conservancy-tree-party-brings-a-young-crowd-of-tree-lovers-together/

2023 Tree Party

Photos by Bob Capazzo

Greenwich Sentinel: News Briefs

Greenwich Tree Conservancy Plants 100 trees

The Greenwich Tree Conservancy was awarded a grant from the Connecticut Urban Forest Council’s Urban Forestry Climate Change Grants Program to plant trees in areas that lack sufficient tree canopy, which can result in higher temperatures due to the heat island effect. The grant was initially for 50 trees but the Conservancy was able to plant double that number. The Conservancy worked with the Superintendent of Parks & Trees and the Town Tree Warden to carefully site locations for the trees based on climate change adaptability, urban survivability, wildlife benefits, and aesthetic appeal. The project also enhanced roadside construction off Exit 2 of I-95.

This originally appeared in the Greenwich Sentinel at https://www.greenwichsentinel.com/2023/04/28/news-briefs-april-28/

The Tree Doctors – recorded on March 30, 2023

The Tree Doctors Are Coming!

Recorded on Thursday, March 30th


You have questions and we have answers!
Join us for a panel discussion and Q&A with:
John Conte
Licensed Landscape Architect, Member Town Greenscape Committee
Dr. Gregory Kramer
Superintendent of Parks & Trees. Town Tree Warden.
Allan Fenner
Consulting Arborist
Planning a Landscape
Concerned about disease
Insect infestation
Feeding or Pruning
Learn ways to better care for your trees
Register to access the recording!

CT Insider: Greenwich Land Trust ‘Winter Walk’ teaches visitors how identify trees without leaves

Visitors enjoyed a robust walk and a little education about the trees around them on Feb. 7 at the new Converse Brook Preserve in Greenwich.

The Greenwich Land Trust and Greenwich Tree Conservancy hosted the guided tour “Winter Walk — Identifying Trees Without Leaves” at the preserve, which is on Cherry Valley Road. Those who attended were taught to examine the diverse features of bark, branches and buds to see a varied winter landscape.

The Land Trust permanently protects and cares for more than 869 acres of woodlands, marshlands, orchards, and meadows throughout Greenwich. The organization recently acquired Converse Brook Preserve, which is 72 acres of open space. The piece of land is now Greenwich Land Trust’s largest preserve and will allow the community to partake in outdoor activities and educational programming through guided walks and hikes, nature study, and family events.

This story originally appeared at https://www.ctinsider.com/news/article/greenwich-converse-brook-park-17772119.php#taboola-1

Letter to the Editor – Greenwich Tree Conservancy: House Bills Address Destructive Tree Cutting by DOT, Eversource 2.3.2023

Submitted by JoAnn Messina, Executive Director, Greenwich Tree Conservancy

To the Editor:

The State General Assembly has recently submitted several tree bills, two of them speak specifically to tree issues we have been experiencing here in Greenwich. Our tree canopy is being reduced by the enhanced tree trimming of Eversource as well as the massive tree removals of CT DOT along our transportation corridors.

Tree removal along I95 close to exit 5 in Old Greenwich/Riverside

The pace of this destructive practice appears to be increasing at the same time as stronger storms are creating more dramatic flooding and the resulting erosion. This cutting also results in the creation of heat islands throughout town and other unanticipated outcomes that negatively affect our neighborhoods.

Eversource speaks about hardening their infrastructure, yet their practices appear to focus solely on removal and “enhanced” trimming of our trees and not on equipment upgrades or undergrounding of wires in municipal areas.

They recently issued a press release (Eversource Investing $74 Million in Tree Management Feb 3, 2023) stating that 140 miles of electric lines in Greenwich would see trees being “trimmed” or removed, the most in the state. As town tree canopies are weakened by aggressive trimming the trees become more vulnerable to damage from strong storms.

HB 5636 will address vegetation management by utilities by requiring a permit from DEEP for pruning, require a licensed arborist to agree with the assessment of the health of the tree, require stump removal and replacement of trees removed from private property and establish fines when they do not comply with such provisions.

Additionally, the clear cutting by CT DOT along I-95 and the Metro North right-of-way that includes easements provided to Eversource have removed sound buffers that are critical to adjacent neighborhoods, have decimated habitat for songbirds and pollinators, and left behind wide open
areas for invasive plants to take over. Their management policy is to apply pesticides, in many cases directly adjacent to homes and schools with young children. This creates a vicious cycle which would not have occurred if a properly managed tree canopy had remained.

HB5506 will establish guidelines to govern vegetation along state highways by employing a certified arborist to approve tree removals, it will require annual reporting of the amount of money spent on tree removals during the previous year along with a schedule of work to be performed four weeks prior to start. The tree warden will receive this notification as well as a concise planting plan of replacement trees where trees are to be removed.

Representatives Meskers, Arzeno and Khanna are co-sponsoring these bills. We ask you to write to them expressing your support and the importance of these bills.

Please also write to Senator Fazio asking him to co-sponsor these bills in the Senate. Now is the time to stop the practice of clearcutting trees by Eversource and CT DOT.

This letter originally appeared on https://www.greenwichtime.com/opinion/article/opinion-stop-clearcutting-trees-ct-17756280.php and on https://greenwichfreepress.com/letter-to-the-editor/greenwich-tree-conservancy-house-bills-address-destructive-tree-cutting-by-dot-eversource-194213/

Greenwich Free Press: Public Hearing: After 7 Lost Years, Community Urges Regulatory Agencies to Proceed with WMS Field Remediation

Below is an excerpt for the original article published January 12, 2023. Click here for the full article.

Wednesday night’s public hearing at Western Middle School brought an outpouring of support for proposed remediation of contaminated soil. The audience was representatives of DEEP and the EPA.

The proposal is to remove two feet of soil across the playing fields and vegetated slopes.

The fields have been fenced off since 2016.

Families attended an open house in the gym prior to the public hearing and were able to ask questions one-on-one with the experts.


Francia Alvarez from the Greenwich Tree Conservancy expressed support for the remediation plan, but she said she hoped as many of the existing trees could be saved as possible.

“Many trees were removed at New Lebanon School and the Tree Conservancy does not want to see that again here,” she said.

For the full story, click here.

Greenwich Sentinel: Street & Roadside Trees, Value Greater Than You Realize

By Urling Searle

There are streets and roads in town that frequently elicit comments such as “oh, I love that street” or “that is one of my favorite roads to drive on”. This enthusiasm can often be attributed to the mature trees growing along our favorite roads as their canopies create a deeply rooted landscape that encourages us to look more closely and engage with the neighborhood.

Large trees are considered ‘keystone structures’ due to the important role they play in supporting critical biodiversity. Under a mature tree you can find small ecosystems where moisture and key nutrients are retained in the soil, allowing it to remain stable and able to support a vast array of life. When the living organisms within soil become severely depleted the result is dirt that erodes more easily and contributes to stormwater runoff and local flooding. Town residents have been experiencing this problem at an increasing rate during recent strong storms.

Trees along a street and sidewalk.

A handful of mature trees in a developed setting create a biodiverse “hotspot” offering all these benefits along with an environment that hosts many familiar species of birds and the food system they depend upon. Small trees simply cannot do this.

The leaves of street and roadside trees actively filter air through the cellular process of photosynthesis and provide physical barriers that catch airborne dust particles and solid pollutants, providing significant human health benefits. This is particularly important in an area such as southwestern CT where increasing traffic brings with it increasing air pollution.

Street trees shield adjacent structures and people from summer heat and the sun’s uv rays, lowering air-conditioning bills. They buffer wind and weather in winter. In a 2013 controlled study, using a temporarily installed tree line and electron microscopy, a greater than 50% reduction in airborne particulate matter was found in the houses screened from the road by the temporary tree line.

Mature roadside trees are able to spread out and store more carbon than forest trees as they enjoy more light and less competition.

Consider that a 36” Red Oak stores 6000 times more carbon than a newly planted 1” caliber tree. A 30” diameter tree filters 60—70 times the pollutants of a 3” caliber tree. A 20-year-old Red Maple has been shown to remove 3100 pounds of carbon dioxide and intercept 27,000 gallons of rainfall, in just 20 years of growth. Think of all the benefits the mature trees in your neighborhood provide.

With an increasing number of residents choosing to live in the more densely populated areas of town, the value our mature street trees play in our quality of life becomes clearer. It is well known that trees increase property values and reduce crime. Office workers with a view of trees report less stress and more satisfaction with their jobs. Whether you find yourself sitting on a park bench or enjoying a walk along a back country road, leafy neighborhoods create environments of interaction, where people are more likely to spend time outside.

The benefits trees provide us has yet to be fully understood. Recent study suggests an increasing awareness of the essential role they play in human health and well-being.

Street and roadside trees provide unparalleled scenic beauty and bring a sense of place and character to a town or city. The Tree Conservancy works with the town to preserve the town trees that are a part of our urban forest and encourages all residents to better understand the benefits they enjoy and the value of their own trees.

This article originally appeared in the Greenwich Sentinel. Click here to read.