If Montclair didn’t have a name, some might suggest Gardenville, that’s how much horticultural know how is floating around town, both professionals and accomplished amateurs.
And yet, the Montclair Times is reporting that at Mount Hebron school, a major out-of-season pruning has Cary Africk, former 2nd Ward Township Councilman – and a Master Gardener — upset, while interim Schools Superintendent Clarence Hoover compared the pruning to a haircut that will grow back.
Africk disagrees, and sent along this:
It’s not that simple.
There is skill, and science, behind pruning. College level courses teach pruning theory and skills — there’s a difference between pruning or shearing a boxwood, or a rose bush, or a multi stemmed shrub. Even pruning a simple Hydrangea has complexities insofar as you can’t prune certain types in the summer and expect them to flower next year.
Right now is not the time to do most any kind of pruning.
As for trees, there are proper methods. The Elm that was pruned this week was done improperly. It didn’t need pruning in the first place, and the way it was pruned injured the branches making them susceptible to disease.
The area will be replanted. Even better. But there are lessons to be learned.
The BOE could have turned to the Town. We have a Certified Tree Expert, our arborist Steve Schuckman, and the head of our shade tree department, who actually helped with the original planting, Pat Sexton who is thoroughly trained and also an expert. Either would have helped, if asked. There is also the wonderful Garden Club. And the professional gardeners at Presby, and the extraordinary gardeners at Van Vleck. Or how about Eric Von Hoffman, a premier Landscape Architect in town of considerable expertise who has volunteered much of his time at no cost to the community. And then there’s the dozens of volunteers from Anderson Park, including Scott Kevelson who has tree certification. And of course there are the Master Gardeners.
I agree that the area needed work. But the next time I hope the BOE reaches out for help.
The Times notes that the Mt. Hebron School PTA is already planning fundraising efforts to rejuvenate the school’s garden areas. And when we took a walk past the school at noon today, many beds looked (and smelled!) as if they’d been freshly mulched (perhaps to make bare patches and stumps less noticeable?), and tools strewn about suggested work was still underway.