2017-04-27 / From The Garden

Celebrating Newport’s Love Affair with Trees

By Betsy Sherman Walker

Newport Arboretum Week, the city’s peerless annual reminder to the world that Newport is a tree town, is underway. Festivities began on Friday, April 21, with the opening of the Art of the Arbor at the Newport Elks Lodge, an exhibit curated by the Newport Art House. It was also the first day for the Lighting of the Trees and the week-long Gilded Tree Contest.

With Newport’s yards full of hidden gems, the goal is to engage the community in spotlighting “Newport’s urban forest bathed in brilliance.” This year, residents are encouraged to spotlight trees in their own yards.

Last year’s Lighting of the Beeches (a tribute to the loss of the 180-year-old Fernleaf beech tree on the grounds of the Newport Art Museum) has been opened up to trees of all kinds. There is a $300 grand prize for the most beautifully lit tree, and participants have until 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, April 29 to place their entry.

There have also been tree walks, tree tours, explorations and discussions for all age groups. The narrative of Newport’s longstanding romance with trees, with their planting, planning and preservation, has a story for every age and interest. Many of the stories have been told and retold, but they never grow old. And there is always room for one more.

Newport’s urban

forest is a magnificent population of storied trees that reflect the city’s 400-year march through time. But it is a population in need of care, and it is the mission of the Newport Tree Society to honor the past and guarantee its future. In February 2016, Newport became the first city in the country to be home to four professional accredited arboreta: the Newport Arboretum (the popular face of the Newport Tree Society), the various venues of the Preservation Society of Newport County, the campus of Salve Regina University and the National Museum of American Illustration.

To illuminate your tree, the Arboretum recommends a low-cost, high-quality all-green laser light available at Ace Hardware on Bellevue Avenue. The lights are efficient, low-wattage, “and will project a thousand points of light upon the trunk and canopy.”

To learn more about National Arboretum Week, go to newportarboretum.org.

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