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

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

The town has long valued the beauty of its street trees.

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

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

The ginkgo trees were selected for additional qualities to suit their locations by Nancy Caudle-Johnson, Maine licensed arborist and owner of TREEKEEPERS LLC of Camden, with her husband, Douglas.

The autumn gold ginkgo tree grows in a broad-spreading shape and the Princeton sentry grows in an upright, 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 being planted in the typical square hole made in a sidewalk cutout, which is not ideal because tree roots grow horizontally.

This Princeton sentry gingko planted within the new sidewalk bump-out at Chestnut Street and Route 1 in Camden is suited for narrow places. Photo by Susan Mustapich

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

The tree planting was taken care of by Public Works Department staff, led by Dave St. Laurent. Caudle-Johnson praised the staff, who were patient and willing to do everything she suggested to make sure the trees will thrive. Steps such as removing all of 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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