Trees in the Glebe: Selecting your Canada 150 tree

Trees Angela with trees young and old

Angela Keller-Herzog on Glebe Avenue, with a young Shagbark Hickory planted by the Trees in Trust Program. In the background is a mature evergreen.
Photo: Jennifer Humphries

by Jennifer Humphries

Spring will be here before you know it so now is the time to consider what kind of tree you will plant. The Environment Committee of the Glebe Community Association, with our partner Ecology Ottawa, has developed a handy resource guide as part of the initiative to encourage planting of 150 trees in our community in honour of Canada’s sesquicentennial.

Selecting the Right Tree is a primer on selection that describes in capsule form 20 different trees and lists six more that are desirable but hard to find in local nurseries.

Selecting the Right Tree focuses on native trees and recommends trees that are likely to thrive in soil conditions in our area that are salt-tolerant. It promotes diversity, urging residents to steer clear of some trees that are overabundant. It offers a mix of sizes, and trees that don’t grow too tall, which you’ll need if your space has an obstacle such as overhead wires. It doesn’t neglect trees with blossoms and berries favoured by our feathered friends, such as Serviceberry and Choke Cherry.

Trees Crab Apple in Bloom Glebe Collegiate

Crab Apple in full bloom at Glebe Collegiate
Photo: Kieran Humphries

You might be surprised by some of the guide’s recommendations. For example, the Kentucky Coffee-tree is native to Ontario, despite its name. It has the largest leaves of any Canadian tree, one to three feet long and two feet wide, divided into many leaflets.

Angela Keller-Herzog, co-chair of the Environment Committee and compiler of the guide, gathered pointers from published works and from knowledgeable “tree people.” There are certainly viable tree choices that are not included, but the guide is a terrific starting point. Email me at environment@glebeca.ca to get your free e-copy or visit the GCA Website at glebeca.ca.

To see what your tree will look like when it has grown beyond sapling stature, take a ramble through the Arboretum of the Central Experimental Farm, home to 1,700 tree and shrub types. Eric Jones, past president of Friends of the Farm, says of the deciduous tree, “In summer you don’t see the shape when it’s covered by foliage. In winter you see its form and since we have a range of trees planted recently and up to 120 years ago you get insight into what a type will look like as a young tree and when mature.”

Ultimately your choice may come down to the kind of tree you find appealing or the one you glowingly remember from childhood or a favourite haunt. We hope, though, that Selecting the Right Tree will keep you from making a disastrous choice driven by taste or sentiment alone.

Private or City Land?

If where you wish to plant is your own property, you will need to source your tree at a local nursery. Selecting the Right Tree contains a list of local nurseries. Or you may be able to transplant a hardy seedling or sapling from a friend’s or neighbour’s yard; just don’t forget to ask their permission!

Keep in mind that spaces on City of Ottawa property, such as city-owned street frontage, may be eligible for the city’s Trees in Trust Program. In this case, the city will provide a tree and plant it free of charge. Thanks to Tracey Schwets, Program Manager in Forestry Planning at the City of Ottawa for these Trees in Trust details:

“Each season, a selection of nine species is provided to the homeowner to select from in the small, medium and large growing categories. Appropriate species are rotated through the list twice per year to offer a greater species diversity and periodically remove trees from the list that are very popular to encourage the selection of less-known species. Forestry Services plants over 50 species of trees across all of our planting programs; however, not all are suitable for residential front yards. The species offered through the Trees in Trust program are those that have proven to be more successful on residential streets in a wider variety of site conditions. Occasionally, a resident has a particular preference for a species of tree not offered for that season of the program. Through discussions with the ward Forestry Inspector, a resident may choose an alternative species provided it is appropriate for the site and street (i.e. we would not want to plant a hackberry on a street that is 90 per cent hackberry) and is readily available. The timelines are the same as for trees selected from the Trees in Trust form.”

As the spring 2017 program is closed, requests received now will be processed for fall 2017. Cut-off dates for fall are typically mid-June to mid-July. Trees in Trust is a popular program, so submit your request as soon as possible! See www.ottawa.ca/en/residents/water-and-environment/trees-and-community-forests#planting.

Please help Trees in the Glebe track our progress by registering your new tree or suggested space on public or private property at: http://goo.gl/forms/377NATttd2O4ia4v2.

For more on the Emerald Ash Borer in the Glebe, and the City of Ottawa’s Canada 150 Groves Project, go to the Glebe Report website at www.glebereport.ca.

Jennifer Humphries is a member of the Glebe Community Association’s Environment Committee, which, in cooperation with Ecology Ottawa, is promoting the planting of 150 or more new trees in the neighbourhood in 2017. Write to Jennifer at environment@glebeca.ca.

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Emerald Ash Borer

Assh BorerSeveral community members have commented on Glebe blocks that have lost nearly all of their tree canopy to the depredations of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). I asked Tracey Schwets for an update on this critical issue for Ottawa’s urban forest.

Some 45,000 trees have been removed as of May 2016 due to EAB since its arrival in 2008. About 2,100 ash trees are on an injection program that began in 2013. Tree injection has been successful in prolonging the life of many ash trees. The city is monitoring injected ash trees on an annual basis to determine if they are still viable to remain on the injection program.

Some streets and blocks were lined with ash trees, of which many or all are now gone. Residential tree replacements on streets that were less than 50 per cent ash have been and continue to be replaced through the Trees in Trust program. Streets more than 50 per cent ash are replaced through a full street planting plan, with species selected by Forestry Services to ensure diversity in the canopy cover. At the time the tree is marked for removal, the homeowner is provided with either a Trees-in-Trust form or a notification that the street will be assessed for multiple tree replacements.

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Canada 150 Groves Project

The City of Ottawa’s Canada 150 Groves Project is an exciting, natural and sustainable way to celebrate our sesquicentennial. And it dovetails well with our goals for Trees in the Glebe. Canada 150 Groves is an initiative Mayor Jim Watson announced in fall 2014. Forestry Services has been working with councillors over the past year to determine a grove site in their wards. Several councillors have sought input from the community in their wards. The selected sites are posted at the following link. The Capital Ward site is at the RA Centre on Riverside Drive.

For obvious reasons, native Canadian maples are featured in the project. However, Tracey Schwets of Ottawa Forestry Services noted in response to my question about the need for diversity to minimize the potential for large-scale loss in the event of a species-specific pest or disease, that the groves will be planted with three species: silver, red and sugar maple. She added that many sites are large, with an existing population of diverse species. More trees of various species may also be planted on several of the sites in the future.

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