How I Became a Tree Hugger

This week I officially became a “Tree Hugger”.  When I saw my neighbor’s lovely Rose of Sharon lying across their driveway after last week’s freak snow storm, my heart sunk. The tree is filled with white and pink blossoms every summer and is just gorgeous.  So, I walked over to the tree in an attempt  to move the thing off of the driveway so my neighbors could pull in…then I noticed it was not broken. EGADS!!!!!!!! The thing was just uprooted. Print the tee shirts, call the crunchy granola folks,  fight the power, down with the man, WE HAVE A TREE TO SAVE!!!

OK, how we did this was not all that dramatic. Peter Giuffra — retired school teacher, Elvis in the 4th of July parade, the sole person who volunteers his own time to plant flowers, weed and pick up garbage on  the M.H.S.’ grounds and now landscaper for my neighbors and I — figured this one out. I always know when Peter is here because my kids see his van and shout out, “MOMMY, PETER’S HERE I’M GOING TO GO SAY HI!!!”

Peter gave the tree a severe pruning to lessen the weight of the tree. Then he told me that this was a special tree because it was a gift to the former home owner Elenore Lawrence from the late Howard Van Vleck!! So, now with a new mission (save the historical tree) and super human strength we pushed and pulled the tree as far up as we could, staked it and tied it with rope.

We are keeping our fingers crossed that the tree will make it through the winter and bloom for us next summer.

So, next time you see Peter’s blue Elvis painted van say, “Hi Peter!” He is one of those rare gems that make living here so wonderful!

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  1. If I were Elvis, I would wait until early spring and then whack that baby back, down to maybe three feet from the ground. That would give him a chance to reshape it, and R of S takes pruning pretty well. But hey, I’m a brain surgeon, not a botanist.

  2. Oh my gosh, good for you Holly, and God bless Peter Giuffra as well, for taking care of that tree. It does sound special, and what a great piece of Montclair history. There are wonderful historical trees all over Montclair. We have some beautiful antique Hungarian lilacs at Presby that we believe were planted there by the late, great irisarian John Wister himself. One of the things that makes them unique is that they bloom later than other lilacs, throughout June. Please do keep us posted on how this Rose of Sharon fares. In general they seem like a fairly hardy species, so let’s all hope for the best.

  3. Love this story! Peter is a town treasure (and often seems omnipresent!) Thanks for making me smile with memories of him landscaping on our street 20 years ago when the kids were little, always pitching in without being asked, attending all the MHS football games, local historian of lore, and yes, Elvis for decades! My kids were always happy to see him too, straight through high school. He helped get one of our cats out of a tree once upon a time. I hope the Rose of Sharon bush / tree bounces back.

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