Posted by Robert Wells on April 16,2017
A new tree was planted at Marquand Park yesterday by David and Robert Wells along with help from Andy Sutphin. This was a 4.5 inch caliper red oak (Quercus rubra) that is 16 feet high and was planted along the north side of the back path leading to Mercer Street. It is a replacement tree for the huge red oak that was removed in 2014 in this same location. A cross sectional slice of the trunk of that tree may be seen next to the bulletin board near the parking lot. At the time that it died it was 110 years old and over 100 feet tall. Likely, it died from an infestation of Bacterial Leaf Scorch that was exacerbated by the drought of the summer of 2010. By the time of the 2013 inventory and assessment it was in very poor condition with more than 50% of the crown dead and presented a significant public hazard as many of those limbs overhung the walkway. The new tree was transplanted as a bare root tree using a technique of compressed air the blows away the soil around the roots without damaging them. A tree of this size transplanted in the conventional manner of digging out an earthen ball would have weighed over 1,000 pounds and been six feet wide by three feet deep. On a residential landscape installation, it would have cost $4,500. Without the soil the tree weighed approximately 250 pounds and was moved in 8 man hours with the rental of the compressor for $185 being the only expense.
The new red oak is a gift from David Wells, the owner of Wells Tree and Landscape, who is a Board-Certified Master Arborist and a New Jersey Certified Tree Expert. Wells Tree & Landscape is a firm that I started in July of 1973 and passed on to Dave in 2010. Additionally, he is the incoming President of the New Jersey Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture. The oak was presented to Dave as a seedling in June of 2006 at his graduation from The School of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University. It is a long-standing tradition that red oak seedlings are presented to each graduate of that school when they receive their diploma. This was even more special in that Dave was a Teacher’s Assistant to the Dendrology class that collected all the acorns that were then grown up in the campus greenhouse to become the seedlings that were given away that year. The red oak is the State tree of New Jersey and all the acorns were collected from the trees that line the roadway in front of the Administration Building on campus. I was presented with a similar red oak at my graduation from there in 1985 and planted it on the east side of the Veblen House on Herrontown Road where it now has grown to be a mature 45-foot specimen. My dendrology professor and mentor in those days was Dr. John Kuser who brought us on field trips to Marquand Park which he described as “one of the finest arboreta in New Jersey”. As luck would have it, John Clark who holds the Leopold Chair of Environmental Science at Lawrenceville School and son of our much-loved Dr. Charles Clark, happened by as did Annette Merle Smith while we were planting. It was a fine moment to be planting the new generation of Marquand red oak with my son, the new generation of arborist, as my wife Loretta, and my pal Andy helped to raise it into place. For a moment, I thought I caught a glimpse of Doc Kuser watching us from the woods and smiling – I know that he would approve.
Demonstration how an air spade is used to transplant a tree