Tag Archives: Lillian Wadsowrth Arboretum

Tree Board Sheds Members

Five years ago, Monica Buesser’s husband got a job in Norwalk.

They bought a home in Westport for the usual reasons: lower taxes than surrounding towns, excellent services, beaches, marinas and summer entertainment.

During their 20 years in New Jersey, Monica — who is a master gardener, and earned a master’s degree in biology — had served on the Ridgewood Tree Commission. She wondered if there was something similar here.

Her first week in town, she heard about a tree giveaway at the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum, near her new home. She walked over, met members of the Westport Tree Board, and — without knowing quite what it did — offered to help.

Chair Dick Fincher and tree warden Bruce Lindsay were happy to have her. Monica interviewed with then-2nd Selectwoman Jen Tooker, and joined the group.

When Fincher resigned as chair in 2021, Monica took over. She continued the work he had begun, earning certification as a “Tree City USA” from the Arbor Day Foundation.

Westport Tree Board member Monica Buesser (left) and Lynne Perrgo celebrate the town’s “Tree City USA designation in October 2021.

Twice a year the Tree Board hands out trees, at places like Town Hall and Jesup Green. They’ve organized “Oaktober” celebrations, and worked with the Wadsworth Arboretum to upgrade its visibility and educational offerings.

Monica has not accomplished all that she wanted. A tree planting program similar to one in Ridgewood is still not off the ground.

The Tree Board’s role, Monica says, is to “support the tree warden, and educate the public about trees and the community.”

Westport Tree Board sapling giveaway.

But working with the town’s bureaucracy can be frustrating. Pages of informational content created by Tree Board member Jim Corley is not yet available on the town website.

A link to report problem trees using photos and GPS coordinates — similar to a link on Fairfield’s website — is also not yet live.

Part of the problem, Monica says, is that Westport’s tree warden is not a full-time employee. In addition, he only handles “street trees” — not those at schools and parks, or on private roads.

Buesser and her husband are moving soon, to be closer to 2 children in Washington, DC. (A third is in Utah.)

Her departure — coupled with the Tree Board resignations of Jim Corley and Alice Ely — means there will be 3 vacancies.

She is excited by the passion and knowledge of members like Dick Stein (“he knows every house, every person and every tree,” she says), and Frank Rosen (the News12 videographer helped produce a feature on oak trees; a new one, on sycamores, is in the works).

The Tree Board is important, she says. As Eversource pursues a controversial vegetation management plan — which included cutting trees 100 feet away from utility lines in Redding — the town will need to be vigilant, she warns.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Tree Board — including how to serve — should email treewarden@westportct.gov.

(Tree stories are some of the most popular on “06880.” To keep them — and all others — coming, please contribute by clicking here. Thank you!) 

Roundup: Library Reopens; Oh Brother!; More

The Westport Library’s limited reopening begins Monday (July 13).

In-person services include borrowing of books, audiobooks, movies, and magazines; visits to the Children’s Library to borrow materials; access to Express computers for 20-minute sessions, and in-person reference and reader’s advisory services.

Hours are weekdays 2 to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 12 to 4 p.m.

Precautions will keep staff and patrons safe. Patrons must wear masks, and are asked to keep visits short.

Meeting and conference rooms, the café and store will not be available. Most seatin ghas been removed from the media studios and MakerSpace, and near scanners, copiers and printers. Newspapers will not be available, but magazines can be checked out. For more information, click here.

If it had nothing else going for it besides its name, “Oh, Brother, Not Another Podcast!” should be in the Media Hall of Fame.

But there’s plenty more. Miggs Burroughs and his (of course) brother (and fellow artist) Trace regularly regale listeners with interesting banter and plenty of surprises.

They might outdo themselves on Thursday, July 23 (7 p.m.). They’re hosting a special event, live from the Westport Library.

Of course, anyone anywhere in the world can tune it. There are great guests, videos, interactive quizzes, and a few “celebrity” surprises.

It’s all free. But click here to register.

This week’s #FridayFlowers enhance the entrance to the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum, off Stonybrook Road adjacent to Earthplace.

It’s fitting. In the 1950s the land was made available to the town by Wadsworth, an artist, sculptor, philanthropist and member of the Westport Garden Club — the organization responsible for each week’s flower arrangement, somewhere in town.

Both the arboretum and Earthplace have walking trails, and are open to the public.

(Photo/Topsy Siderowf)

And finally … On this day in 1962, the satellite Telstar was launched from Cape Canaveral. It beamed live television from Europe to the United States.

An Evergreen Grows In Westport

First, it was natural land: wooded, a bit wet.

Then it was cleared for farming. Eventually, nature took over again.

Stone walls show that this wooded land was used long ago for farming.

In 1959, Lillian Wadsworth sold 12 acres to the town of Westport — for $1. The year before, she’d given 62 acres to the fledgling Mid-Fairfield County Youth Museum. The organization later changed its name — first to the Nature Center, then to Earthplace.

A philanthropist, artist and sculptor, Wadsworth was active in the Westport Garden Club, Westport Library, and various preservation and horticutural organizations. 

The Board of Education considered the site — bordered by Stonybrook Road and Woodside Lane — for a school. Residents of the quiet neighborhood objected.

Eventually, the town designated the 12 acres for passive recreation.

The Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum is called “Stony Brook Rd property” on this Google Maps Earth view. Earthplace is at top.

About 20 years ago, the town explored selling the site to a developer. Nearby resident Dick Fincher and town attorney Stan Atwood helped scuttle that plan.

In 2009, a micro-burst felled hundreds of trees. They sat, rotting, for several years.

In 2014 Fincher and Lou Mall got 1st Selectman Jim Marpe interested in the site. When tree warden Bruce Lindsay saw it, he immediately recognized its potential.

With a $50,000 urban forestry grant — and hundreds of volunteer hours — a few trails were cut. Fincher and neighbor John Howe played key roles, and saved a beautiful Norway maple.

Dick Fincher, at the entrance to the Wadsworth Arboretum (corner of Stoneybrook Road and Woodside Lane).

A Norway maple at the Wadsworth Arboretum. The teepee nearby was built by students.

Since then, volunteer restoration efforts have continued. The land was given an official name: The Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum.

Now Fincher and Stein — both members of Westport’s Tree Board — are kicking the project into high gear. The Board has formed a non-profit — Westport Evergreen — to solicit foundation, corporate, civic group and individual funding to manage, maintain and improve open spaces throughout town.

The start of the Eloise Ray trail, on Stonybrook Road. Eloise Ray was a noted landscape architect.

In addition to the Wadsworth Arboretum, Westport Evergreen has done preliminary work at Baron’s South, the 32-acre wooded site between South Compo and Imperial Avenue.

So far, 40% of the Wadsworth site work has been completed. Dangerous deadfalls and invasives were removed; a trail plan has been established, and several trails added. Specimen vegetation has been planted, signage installed, and benches and tables were made by Stein from salvaged wood.

Dick Stein made this bench from salvaged wood. Lou Mall invited fellow RTM members here for a picnic.

Clearing the massive amount of underbrush is “not a job for amateurs,” says Dick Fincher.

Dick Fincher stands on a bridge built earlier this summer by Lou Mall, Dick Stein and tree warden Bruce Lindsay.

Dead creepers line a Wadswworth Arboretum trail.

Still ahead: a visitors’ information kiosk, 3- or 4-car parking area, and path along the Stonybrook perimeter.

A visitors’ kiosk will be built here. All the wood comes from the Wadsworth Arboretum site.

Westport Evergreen hopes to organize work days with groups like the Boys Scouts, Staples’ Service League of Boys, and Rotary and garden clubs.

One of the trails already cut at the Wadsworth Arboretum. Many have been created by students.

Last year, several Staples senior interns and members of Mike Aitkenhead’s environmental studies classes worked at the Arboretum.

Westport Evergreen seeks contributions to the general fund, or for planting a tree or purchasing a bench. Email blindsay@westportct.gov, or write Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum, c/o Tree Warden, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT 06880.

When funding is completed, this rock will bear a plaque saying “Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum.”

In the meantime, wander over to the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum. It’s open 365 days a year.

And it’s free.

That’s priceless.