Mount Allison working to preserve, increase American Elm trees on campus
SACKVILLE, NB — The Mount Allison University campus is known for its beautiful grounds and greenery. The grounds crew has recently embarked on a project to protect current and increase the number of American Elm trees on campus.
“Elm trees across the Maritime region (and much of Europe and North America) have been hit hard by Dutch Elm Disease over the last 20 years, and the Mount Allison campus is no exception,” says Will O’Reilly, the University’s Campus Services Supervisor. “We’ve lost a number of trees to Dutch Elm but are working with community partners and experts in the region to help rebuild our urban forest including Elms.”
The University is currently home to three mature Elm trees across campus. This spring that number will triple. Six Dutch Elm disease-resistant American Elm trees, purchased from Nova Scotia’s Pleasant Valley Nurseries, run by long-time horticulturalist Henri Steeghs, will be planted in the coming weeks. The Mount Allison project is being led on campus by ground lead hand Erin Coombs and crew member Tony Tomlik.
American Elms are native to the local landscape. In addition to the disease resistant Elms, Mount Allison is continuing its inoculation program for existing Elms on campus with Sackville’s Woodpecker Tree Care Ltd. The new tree cultivars of American Elm include ‘Valley Forge’, ‘New Harmony’, and ‘Princeton Elm’.
The addition of the new Elm trees and continued care for existing trees on campus follows the University’s long-time landscaping policy, which includes planting three trees for every one that needs to come down.
Mount Allison’s grounds crew has also been working on a tree inventory across campus. Started in the winter, staff have identified and catalogued over 400 different kinds of plants and trees including rare species such as a copper beech and Swiss stone pine. The campus is also home to the Indigenous Gardens, which include both food garden beds as well as signage identifying local species in English, French, and Mik’maq across campus.
One of the Elm trees that recently succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease on campus has a new life as part of a local art exhibition. Elegy for an Elm, created by Paul Griffin, local artist and sculpture technician/ lecturer in the University’s Pierre Lassonde School of Fine Arts, was installed on the grounds of Cranewood Bakery and Café near campus. The sculpture is remnants of an American Elm from the northside of campus and is completely covered in copper sheeting, currently giving a brilliant orange sheen that will slowly oxidize and change over time. The installation was funded in part from grants received by Griffin from the Mount Allison Marjorie Bell Fine Arts and Music Fund and the New Brunswick Arts Board.
Photo caption: Mount Allison’s Will O’Reilly, Erin Coombs, and Tony Tomlik with the American Elm trees on campus.