For weeks after Hurricane Sandy, trees and their broken limbs lined the streets of Rye. Hundreds of trees were split into pieces, knocked over and left dangling precariously over homes and on power lines. It has been months since the trees have been carted away and many homes are left with limbless trunks or holes in the ground where once tall trees provided shade.
This year, the Rye Nature Center and Little Garden Club of Rye is hoping to help restore the area with their native tree sale and by hosting a speaker who is an expert on native trees.
“A group of us in the garden club began talking about all the trees lost in Hurricane Sandy and our fear that people would just plug any old tree into the holes in their gardens,” said Mary Julian, Co-Chair of Conservation for the Little Garden Club.
“We felt that if we educated people about the value of native trees and made them available - and not too expensive - we could encourage people to make a smarter decision.”
Julian explained that replacing a Norway Maple with a Norway Maple is not a good idea because that species is non-native and invasive. The Club is offering a sugar maple for those who ant a maple and a Black Gum tree, or tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), for those who want the fall color and a nice spot for the birds. (In fact, the Nyssa has recently received an honorable mention from the Garden Club of America for its spectacular color and benefit to migrating birds).
While native species do not necessarily fare better during a storm than a non-native tree, a tree native to this region should be generally healthier than a non-native tree because it has evolved here and is best suited to the conditions, Julian said. However, root structure also determines how well a tree can fare in a storm and some natives are more shallow-rooted than others and thus, more likely to uproot in a severe storm.
A myriad of other factors determine a tree's fate in dangerous weather.
"Many trees have been compromised because of all the construction around them, many are planted in spots where the bedrock is close to the surface so even if they are a deeper rooted tree by nature their roots can't go down very deep. The water table seems to have moved higher and water-saturated soil doesn't hold tree roots as well," Julian explains.
Although Sandy didn't bring a lot of rain, her high winds hit trees that had not yet lost their leaves which made them easier to knock down.
This RNC and the Little Garden Club's second year selling native plants. Last year they sold native shrubs and two small trees. This year, they are hoping to reach a larger customer base because so many people’s trees were affected by the storm. They are offering 12 native trees that can be ordered by downloading the form attached to this article or by visiting the Little Garden Club of Rye or RNC websites. You can order now until Feb. 13. Trees will be picked up at the Rye Nature Center on April 6 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The Little Garden Club will also host a guest speaker from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden on March 16, who will speak about using native trees in the suburban garden.
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