June 15, 2012
A tree trip to remember
A ceremonial planting of trees has politicians and volunteers replace trees lost in the Goderich tornado last year.
Denis Flanagan CLD
LO Manager of Membership and Public Relations

Denis FlanaganOn the Victoria Day weekend, I had the honour of being invited to participate in a fundraising event in Goderich to help raise awareness of the massive tree planting program that was initiated following the devastating tornado that wreaked havoc on August 21, 2011.

The long drive to Huron County was a great chance to catch up on industry chatter with Mark Cullen and Mike Rosen, president of Tree Canada. Of course, the conversation quickly turned to the subject of trees, and in particular how we can all work together to make National Tree Planting Day (Sept. 26) a major event.

Some great ideas were generated to allow Landscape Ontario, CNLA, Tree Canada and the newly formed Trees for Life Coalition to collaborate. Watch for details in a future edition of your Landscape Ontario magazine.

On a personal note, it was fascinating to hear how passionate my travelling companions are about the subject of trees. A friendly debate ensued on some of our favourite species, with sugar maple, yellow birch and London plane tossed into the ring as contenders.

The enthusiasm continued shortly after we arrived in Goderich, when our tour began with nine holes of golf along the beautiful Maitland River. This stroll on the links had a different slant, when Mike was delighted that his ball had landed near a mature stand of hackberry trees. He gave us an impromptu seminar on the value of the magnificent specimens.

The game continued, only to be halted again for educational purposes when Mark insisted on giving a lesson on correct top dressing and seeding techniques. I had created the opportunity by removing a giant divot with a nine iron.

I think by now our golfing host Brian was happy to send us on to the next part of our agenda. It was a driving tour with Barb Allen, a lifelong resident of Goderich, who followed the path of the tornado.  At times it was heart wrenching, as we heard stories of how people lost homes that had been in their family for generations.

We witnessed the remnants of massive trees that had been ripped out of the ground during the tornado, which in fact lasted only 12 seconds, but has left a town with the task of years of rebuilding.

To its credit the community has pulled together in an amazing way. Many new homes have been built and a master plan for tree planting has been created. With expert guidance from Martin Quinn and Jennifer St-Clair from the parks department, the restoration has begun.

The local Community in Blooms committee organized a day of gardening seminars which Mark, Mike and I hosted. The final part of our tour was very rewarding, as we joined the mayor, local politicians and many volunteers for a ceremony to celebrate the planting of a grove of trees (mainly maple and white pine grown under contract by LO members) and generously funded by Trees Canada and Home Hardware.

The plan is to plant many similar groves in the future. One of them hopefully will have a Landscape Ontario Green for Life plaque showing our support for this inspiring community.

Please contact me if you would like to be involved.

All the best Goderich. Thanks for the invitation.
Denis Flanagan can be reached at dflanagan@landscapeontario.com or at 905-875-1805, ext. 2303.