Tag Archives: Wadsworth Arboretum

A Year Of Notable Trees

Westport has many notable trees.

We also have 63 Notable Trees.

The capital letter difference is that those dozens of maples, birches, cedars, oaks and more are officially listed on a state database. Some are on public property; others on private land.

Established in 1985 by the Connecticut Botanical SocietyConnecticut College Arboretum and Connecticut Urban Forest Council, the database offers an excellent way to maintain and honor our state’s arboreal heritage. Trees qualify through a 3-point formula: chest circumference, crown spread and height.

But Westport has gone even further.

Tree warden Bruce Lindsay created a “Notable Trees of Westport” calendar. He collected gorgeous photos of our town’s most Notable Trees — including a few that are not on the official list, but could be — and compiled them into a handsome booklet, for wall or desk.

The cover of the calendar shows trees outside Town Hall.

Images include a black cherry at Birchwood Country Club, the oft-endangered sycamore at the corner of South Compo and the Post Road, a cherry blossom on the Gaults’ South Compo property, a white oak at the top of the Kings Highway Elementary School athletic fields, a copper beech at Longshore and a sweetgum at Winslow Park.

It’s a fundraiser. Money raised from sales of the $20 calendar supports healthcare for mature trees in town by the tree warden, and Westport Evergreen, a nonprofit that manages, maintains and improves open space throughout town. Its primary focus is the Wadsworth Arboretum and Baron’s South, and our many pocket parks.

A Norway maple at the Wadsworth Arboretum.

Lindsay’s work builds on Don Snook’s in the 1990s, continued now by Dick Stein of the town tree board.

Just the other day, Lindsay found a rare turkey oak on Harvey Weinstein’s recently sold Beachside Avenue property.

And, Lindsay says, a woman asked if she could “sponsor” a white oak on Jesup Green. Her $250 contribution will pay for spraying, soil work, fertilizing and crown repair.

The calendars are available at two Town Hall offices: the tree warden (Room 206) and Public Works (Room 210). For more information, contact Bruce Lindsay directly: email blindsay@westportct.gov, or call 203-341-1134.

This white oak at Kings Highway Elementary School is featured in Westport’s Notable Trees calendar.

Coming Soon To Westport: The Wadsworth Arboretum?

Hartford has the Wadsworth Atheneum.

If Lou Mall has his way, Westport may soon have its own Wadsworth Arboretum.

The RTM member has asked our board of selectmen to rename 11.84 acres on Stony Brook Road “the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum.”

The proposed Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum is called "Stony Brook property" on this Google Maps Earth view.

The proposed Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum is called “Stony Brook property” on this Google Maps Earth view.

According to Mall, in 1959 Wadsworth sold land on the  corner of Stony Brook and Woodside to the town — for $1. It was purchased for a school, which was never built.

This property, Mall says, “is a priceless gift to generations to come.”

In December 2013, nearby resident Dick Fincher wrote his RTM representatives about the property. He described damage done during a 2009 storm, and expressed concern about the town’s liability to anyone walking on the land. No action was taken, Mall says, due to a lack of funds.

In early spring 2014, 1st  Selectman Jim Marpe asked tree warden Bruce Lindsay to inspect the property. He applied for and received an urban forestry grant. The Planning and Zoning Commission then designated the area as open space. Fincher and neighbor John Howe cleaned up the property, saving a beautiful Norway maple tree.

Land near the proposed Wadsworth Arboretum.

Land near the proposed Wadsworth Arboretum.

Now, Mall says, the land needs a name.

Wadsworth was born in 1887  in New York, and died at her Kings Highway North home in 1962. (Her great-granddaughter, Sarah Cronquist, lives there today.) Wadsworth was a philanthropist, artist and sculptor, and widow of industrialist Dudley Wadsworth.

As founder and president of the Lillian Wadsworth Foundation, she contributed to the Mid-Fairfield County Museum — now called Earthplace — and donated 62 acres to it.

She was also active in the Westport Garden Club, Westport Library, Society for Preservation of New England Antiquities, the Connecticut Antiquarian and Landmark Society and New York Horticultural Society.

The land Mall hopes to name for Wadsworth is heavily wooded. Designated as “passive recreation” space, its location adjacent to Earthplace makes it attractive to nature lovers.

“We have an opportunity to make this parcel the blueprint for neighborhood and volunteer involvement of funding, building and maintaining open space in Westport,” Mall says. “We need to respond as Lillian did, with clear thought and vigorous action.”

(Hat tip: Doug Fincher)