Suffield Observations

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A Tradition That Keeps Growing

Andy Sauer

Almost 20 years ago, we bought our house from a family who had lived in Suffield for about 50 years and raised five kids. I noticed after moving in that there were interesting trees around the house. There were two dogwood trees, two pear trees and an apple tree. I’m not what you’d call a tree hugger, but I do appreciate the ones that produce things you can eat.

A few years later, my then-9-year-old son brought home a tiny sprig of a crab apple seedling. What’s this? “It’s a tree. I got it from school. It’s Arbor Day!” We found a nice sunny spot, carefully placed it in the soil and kept the weeds away. Six years later, my then-9-year-old daughter brought home a little apple seedling. I guess it’s Arbor Day! We planted the tree in a nice sunny spot not too far away from my son’s tree. Six years later, my youngest daughter asks my wife and me to attend the Arbor Day festivities at McAlister Intermediate School whereupon, she informed us, she would be receiving a seedling. Yeah, yeah. Been there. Done that. I got this.

It was at that presentation that I learned why my and many other Suffield homes have a growing collection of exceptional trees: For more than 50 years, Suffield fourth graders have been receiving tree seedlings for Arbor Day from the Suffield Garden Club. Year after year, students are taught the role trees hold in our ecosystem, and the kids impart to their families the importance of planting new trees, namely the one they just got from school. This year, Suffield fourth graders will get their trees on April 29.

It’s an absolute stroke of genius to hand out seedlings of unique trees. Not only does it stand out, but it makes it more likely to be valued and protected.

My youngest daughter wound up getting a dogwood and insisted we plant it in the front yard. After three years, it’s been growing well. It’s just starting to stretch out its branches. We still have to make sure the grass doesn’t choke it — a chore best done by hand lest we nick it with a weedwhacker. In time, it should grow flowers like the other dogwood in the front yard, which has grown at least 30 feet.

A guy I know cautioned that the bigger dogwood was starting to get too tall and offered to take it down. No, no, I said. It makes beautiful flowers in the spring.

I want to make sure that tree and the others keep growing strong.

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