Trees are not easily discouraged. Even with the coldest and drizzliest of springs, they are still ready and willing to bud, blossom and leaf out. We are grateful.

Fifty-seven new street trees are waiting patiently for May, when they will be planted by the Tree Commission and DPS here and there around the city.

After planting, Tree Commission members and volunteers will swarm where needed, pruning, mulching and gator bagging all the youngest street trees. Then, the watering begins. Remember – if you have a new street tree near you, you are welcome and encouraged to water it anytime.

Ten of those trees will be planted on Arlington Street, this season’s lucky winner. We are launching a new program, called GREENyourSTREET, in which we invite residents of a given block, whom we hope have very neighborly feelings about their street, to help us plant a tree in every available site by contributing to the program. It’s deeply satisfying when a block is done.

The next block to benefit from this program could be yours.

I hope you have all seen the Recognition Tree sculpture on the Rail Trail near Washington Street by now. A few months ago we were able to install a second batch of stainless steel leaves. These engraved leaves are reminders of whom we love, who loved us, and what we care about. They do not require watering and do not fall off in the winter.

The Newburyport Street Tree Inventory, managed by the Tree Commission and supported by the Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation, was completed last fall.

Commission members, joined by two stalwart interns, Max Reid and Emily Noonan, walked the beat for three months, measuring, photographing and logging 20 pieces of information about every city-owned tree. We now have access to a mountain of information about our trees, including the fact there are 11,246 of them, 5,832 of which are street trees.

Emily, a landscape design student at UMass Amherst, was so intrigued by what she learned that she offered to create a “Guide to Newburyport Trees.” She was assisted by Tree Commission editors and tree nomenclature fusspots.

The guide describes 83 trees with color photographs and will soon be the envy of every tree-caring community in the United States. Thank you, Emily! The guide is available for a suggested donation of $20. You can donate on line at or send a check to FoNT, PO Box 1155, Newburyport, MA 01950 and pick up your copy at the Parks Department in City Hall.

Lance Rickard, who is the assistant tree warden foreman of the tree crew for the DPS and an absolute wizard at pruning large and problematic trees, thereby saving them, loves the inventory.

He says it makes it possible for him to have an easily accessible overview of the city’s tree inventory. He can pinpoint areas that haven’t been visited in awhile or seek out trees that appear to be in poor health and compare past health with the tree’s current condition.

In our next “Tree Talk,” Lance has offered to describe in more detail what is it that he and his crew do for our trees. It’s a lot.

Getting the inventory in order and preparing the tree guide for publication were good winter projects. The winter is also our grant writing season. The commission submitted six grant applications to various foundations, trusts and banks, plus our annual application for Tree City and Tree Growth awards. Newburyport has been a designated Tree City for 23 years.

The Tree Commission also submits an annual report, which finds its way to the city website. This is a review of our work for the fiscal year 2019. Anyone can see these reports by visiting the Tree Commission website within the city of Newburyport website.

For more information about the Tree Commission visit:

Questions about the Recognition Tree, the GREEENyourSTREET program or to obtain a tree guide, visit:

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