Sunday, February 28, 2010

From 1945: Praise for Saving Elms Given Middletown Club

This article is from exactly 65 years ago today, published in The Hartford Courant on February 28, 1945.
The Middletown Garden Club is commended and Middletown is cited as an example of what communities can accomplish in the fight against Dutch elm disease, in a statement Tuesday by Dr. P.N. Annand, chief of the United States Department of Agriculture bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine.

The Middletown Garden Club, according to the statement, reported an expenditure of several hundred dollars in 1944 for Dutch elm disease work, a portion of the funds being appropriated by the town and the remainder raised by subscription. All elm trees in the town known to be infected and all associated bark beetle material were removed. This involved removing 50 elms, ranging in size from small brush elms to one tree 41 inches in diameter. The Middletown club, according to the statement, is endeavoring to interest other garden clubs in Connecticut to take similar efforts to stop the spread of Dutch elm disease which threatens to destroy the New England elm trees.

Woodpeckers, the statement says, are one of the best guides to infected trees during the winter. Woodpecker feeding on elms is a well-known sign that elms are infested with bark beetles which spread the destructive fungus from diseased elms to healthy trees.


Jane said...

Many thanks, Steven, for this article on the Middletown Garden Club's activities in 1945. Today, the Club continues its conservation work in many ways. As we prepare to celebrate our 95th year of existence, we are hosting an educational session on the Asian Longhorned Beetle, the latest alien threat to hardwood trees in our area. This will be held at Russell Library on Thursday, March 4th, from 3 to 5 pm.

Other recent activities include assisting a local Eagle Scout candidate with restoration of the gardens at the Middlesex Historical Society, extensive replanting of native trees at the Wadsworth/Kerste deBoer Arboretum on Long Lane, and a collaboration with the CT Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation to create an experimental American chestnut orchard in Middletown.

Annual workshops create holiday wreathes for many institutions in town, as well as holiday centerpieces at the Senior Center.

The Middletown Garden Club is a very engaged group of men and women representing almost all of the towns in Middlesex County. We offer regular open meetings to educate the community on topics such as landscape history and design, conservation, horticulture and flower arranging.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jane,

Maybe someone from the Garden Club would like to write about your next meeting for the Eye? It would be an interesting read,

-an admirer

Anonymous said...

Is there any chance that someone from the Garden Club could collaborate with the City and the Oil Pipeline to help alleviate the unsightly area near the tracks,along DeKoven Drive, at least in front of City Hall, the Court and in back of the movies? It is so unattractive to the eye. For many who pass by, or are stuck in traffic at the lights on Route 9, it creates a negative, negligent impression and is an area in dire need of attention.

Jane said...

I believe that Bill Warner asked the Urban Forestry Commission some time ago for a suggestion. I suggested a split rail fence with climbing hydrangeas. The biggest problem is that that strip of land belongs to either the railroad or the State DOT -- I forget which. Does anyone else know, or have a suggestion about plantings there?

Jennifer Saines said...

I agree with anonymous at 11:39 that the visual blight of Middletown’s gateways is distressing. A simple remedy for this problem would be a return to traditional street design, where roads are narrow and tree lawns are wide enough to support large shade trees. Sidewalks and roadways should be shaded by trees to create graceful and aesthetic streetscapes and a more appealing city environment.

At present we are faced with huge expanses of asphalt not only on Rte 9 but also on Rte. 66, Saybrook Road, Newfield St. and South Main St., and the resulting appearance is desolate and tawdry. Middletown public works must break away from its mantra of “traffic flow” and move to a more sustainable and aesthetic street design. Our city politicians and state reps need to push back against the authority of the CT DOT and play a role in the shaping of our shared roadways.

Envision, if you can, Martin Luther King, Dingwall, and Dekoven Drives as well as lower Court St. with full sidewalks and shade trees. Were this vision a reality I would argue that the drivers on Rte 9 wouldn’t really notice the desolate track landscape, but would be looking beyond, wishing that they were getting off Rte. 9 to enjoy what Middletown has to offer.