Spring, such a beautiful exciting time for us nature lovers. It often feels like winter drags on through so much of our Spring here in the Northern Hemisphere but it really is a remarkable experience as the outdoors come alive once again. One thing that I particularly enjoy is all of all the beautiful flowers that come with Spring. I want to take this time to educate you on the subject of ‘Flowers’ yes, you will always associate Spring with the beautiful Daffodils and Tulips…but what about all the deciduous trees that produce beautiful flowers as well? Many tree flowers go unnoticed.
Acer saccharum (Sugar Maple). It is often over looked how beautiful Sugar Maple flowers are as they sometimes, blend with the young emerging leaves in Spring. A fascinating fact about Sugar Maples is that they don’t flower every year. Our head Arborist Paul, says that through research, it is undermined exactly what triggers a Sugar Maple to flower, it can happen every few years sometimes even every 5 years, and there is no concrete evidence as to what exactly triggers the flowering. Following the flower you will see thousands of tiny seedlings below the canopy of Acer saccharum. Unfortunately around here (Kingston), it hasn’t flowered in a couple of years. I have posted a photo of the Sugar Maple flower that our Arborist took in 2014, the last time the Sugar Maple flowered.
You will be surprised of how many trees are in bloom right now. I challenge you to take a closer look at the trees that are leafing out and see if you can spot the flowers. Hint: They are usually green! Happy Spring!
Happy Earth Day to all! At Western Landscape Services we believe Earth is every day, after all we only have one planet so why should we recognize the basis of our existence on just one day? Regardless, to celebrate, we are hitting up our second school of the year for our Plant a Tree Make Our City Cool Program! The lucky grade 6 class will get outside and help plant a large native tree species on the school property and learn about the importance of trees in our urban environment.
This leads me to bring up something important, there is so much talk about what we need to do to change the fate of our planet (global warming etc.) and I think all these things are great and will make a difference but the fate of whether these plans become a reality is held in the hands of future generations. This is why it is so important to educate children at a young, impressionable age so they can carry on the change and see the change in the years to come. The reality is the policy makers may not see the changes in their time. Global change takes time and it’s up to us to be the change we want to see and pass this knowledge onto our children.
Happy Earth Day!
To kick off this years first Plant a Tree Make Our City Cool program we decided to travel a really far distance to deliver an educational session to some super cute pre-kindergarden students. We went all the way to the American School of Guatemala! Well, not literally, but digitally we were able to deliver a great version of Plant a Tree Make Our City Cool. The focus of the presentation was geared to how ‘Trees are Cool’. Given the circumstances of using Skype we had to make sure it was really interactive to keep the kids engaged. Pat Mocc went over his super cool safety equipment, which the kids LOVED…especially the big saw (OOOOoooooo Ahhhhhh). He also brought in many samples of different branches from around our head office which they found particularly fascinating because no branches at this time of year had any leaves, this is something the children only associated with a dead tree in the warm climate of Guatemala. The class was filled with giggles and many questions about being an arborist who climbs trees! We even got to see some of the student’s awesome drawings of Pat Mocc and trees!
Typically, following our presentation on the importance of trees in an urban environment, we donate a large native tree that we plant out in the school yard. The class are engaged in this activity and everyone helps plant the tree. It’s a really team effort that creates a sense of ownership and responsibility for the students, this results in those students caring and protecting their tree in the future years to come. In our Guatemalan edition, some wonderful parents from the class donated a native tree to the school in which the kinders got to plant themselves, safety hats and all!
We are so thankful for Rachel Vandertol (aka. Miss V), who is the pre-kindergarden teacher we know and love very well. She is teaching abroad in Guatemala and coordinated this event! Thank you for all your hard work Rachel, we miss you!
In closing, there is no age too young or distance too far that we can’t spread the word about the importance of trees in our urban environment. Increasing tree canopy coverage and educating our future generations about the benefits of trees needs to spread globally to continue to make a difference. We only have one planet, so together let’s look after it!
One thing we at Western Landscape Services are passionate about is educating our future generations about the importance of trees in our urban and natural environments. We encourage getting in touch with Nature whether you are young or old!
A study according to authors of a recent AAP statement stated the average 8-year-old spends eight hours daily using different forms of media (computers, tablets etc.) This number is even higher for the average teen! My point here, is not only does screen time need to be monitored in the household, but perhaps different forms of learning in schools is the answer to lowering screen time for our youth. Learning can be done outside, in Nature.
An amazing thing is happening in North America with the growth of outdoor schools. Outdoor schools focus on learning in different environments than a class room, for preschool specifically, outdoor schools completely boycott the idea of sitting at a desk and all discovery and learning takes place outside- where kids belong! They have the freedom to get dirty and explore. This allows young children to activate all their senses like smell, texture, touch, and taste (be careful with the tasting though!) Why not learn outside?
Western Landscape Services is actively encouraging students to get outside and be in touch with Nature, we do this through our Plant a Tree, Make Our City Cool school program. Each year, Pat Mocc goes to 10 schools and educates Grade 6 students about the importance of trees in urban environments. Students then participate in the planting of a large donated tree on their school property and also get to take home a donated tree seedling. In our experience, the students love getting outside and planting the tree in rain or shine. The kids always have so much energy and it makes me realize how critical it is for children to be outside, not only so they can burn some of that energy off but also to reconnect them with Mother Nature.
For more information on Outdoor Schools check out this link from Upworthy which explores numerous outdoor schools in the United States: 7 Forest Schools From Around the Country
Pat Mocc in action! Teaching our future generations that trees are good!
As many of you are aware, the Emerald Ash Borer has made itself known in the Kingston area.
Future concerns are now being focused on the Acer (Maple) genus. Similarly to what is happening with Ash trees has also happened with Ulmus (Elm) trees in the past. Jog your memory and think of the last time you saw an elm tree? Can’t remember? Dutch elm disease decimated our elm trees in the 1950s. There are very few left, so consider yourself lucky if you have a beautiful, mature elm to admire.
Professor John Ball of South Dakota State University states that we should be concerned with our Maple trees because both Ash and Elm are found on the major continents of the earth and insects have decimated them and have eventually spread from continent to continent. This could also potentially happen with Maples in the future.
What can we do? What’s our abatement strategy? As landscape designers and planners we can consciously plant with diversity in mind. Planting different genus instead of monoculture (same genus) will ensure this. Through Professor Ball’s research, he recommends planting no more than 5% of the same genus in our urban forests. The many benefits of diverse tree canopy cover will sustain our urban forest and allow it to thrive and not be threatened by insects or disease. To sum it all up, what does this mean for you and I and our future generations? Living in an urban forest means an increase in quality of life!
Our mission statement here at Western is ‘In Partnership with Mother Nature’ this something we refer to everyday. It is the foundation of our business practices and principles. In order to effectively follow our mission statement we depend not only on management but also our crews out in the field!
During the busy season, we have monthly safety/ team building meetings where we review safety policies and discuss topics related to the industry. For one particular meeting in the summer I decided to ask all our staff ” What does being In Partnership with Mother Nature mean to you?” The response I got was amazing! The crews sent and shared so many great photos of wild life and nature that they came across in the field. I couldn’t believe some of the animals these guys were encountering on the job! I can’t help but share some of these fun photos with you. Enjoy.
Western Landscape is proud of the community in which we serve. On a Yearly basis we aim to visit 10 schools to educate students about the importance of trees in urban environments. This school in particular was lots of fun as we had two of our arborists compete in a climbing competition in the school’s gymnasium! As you can see the in the video below, the kids were BEYOND excited. Not only does this make me happy students were engaged in an activity we put on for them, but I hope that this will spark our future generations interest in a career in the arboriculture field. read more →