Restoring our Waterways: 175 Native Trees and Shrubs Planted!

Thanks to the 10 Million Trees for PA project, Colonial Canopy Trees received 175 trees and shrubs to plant along streams in Plymouth and Whitemarsh townships.

These water-loving native plants were planted in riparian zones to help stabilize streambanks, filter and reduce sediment from stormwater runoff, and improve stream water quality. They also add great wildlife value.

Shaun, a volunteer, watering a newly-planted Red-twig Dogwood. Trees in McCarthy Basin in Whitemarsh were fenced in instead of being placed in tubes.

Our planting list consisted of 25 of each species below:

  • Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea)
  • Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum)
  • Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)
  • Sandbar Willow (Salix interior)
  • River Birch (Betula nigra)
  • Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)
  • Witch-Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Here’s a breakdown of where the trees and shrubs were planted:

  • Harriet-Wetherill Park, along creek: 34 plants.
  • McCarthy Retention Basin in low-lying outflow area, Whitemarsh: 56 plants.
  • Parcel opposite Mather Mill, Whitemarsh Township, along stream: 16 plants.
  • Koontz Park in stormwater basin, Whitemarsh Township: 16 plants.
  • Bicentennial Park along Sawmill Run creek: 34 plants.
  • Sandwood Park in water runoff area: 8 plants.
  • Private property in Plymouth Township along stream: 21 plants.

These trees were received as bare-root whips. They are planted in the ground in areas with wet soil, and are staked and enclosed in a tube. The tube lets light through while protecting the small sapling from deer or animal browse. The tubes are topped with a netting that prevents birds from entering or getting trapped.

When no vegetation is present next to a waterway, there are no roots to hold the soil together. Over time, large rain events erode away the streambank and sediment is deposited in the water, creating issues downstream. Vegetation in these riparian zones also reduces pollution and improves stream quality. Photo shows 4 Silky Dogwoods planted at Bicentennial Park in Plymouth Township.

Over time as these trees grow, their roots will stabilize the soil along the streams and help prevent soil erosion. Since these are native species, our insects and wildlife will utilize them for food, nectar and shelter. As trees outgrow their tubes, we will replace them with appropriate fencing or bark-guards. The survival rates of these trees vary on a number of factors, but we are hopeful that at least 75% will be remaining after 3 years.

If you notice any issues with the tubes at these locations, please let us know by emailing ColonialCanopy@gmail.com.

We’d like to thank Plymouth and Whitemarsh Townships for helping us find appropriate locations to plant these trees and shrubs, and for working with us to restore our area’s riparian zones!

Seven tubed trees were planted along this empty section of Sawmill Run at Bicentennial Park.

Colonial Canopy Trees 2021 Year-End Summary

Another planting season is in the books, and 2021 was a big year for us! Thanks to our volunteers, donors, and collaborators at various townships and school districts, we continued our mission of planting trees, restoring green spaces, and advocating for environmental change! 

Fall 2021 – A great group of volunteers recently planted this American Elm at Miles Park in Whitemarsh!

Milestones

We are excited to share with you a few milestones that we accomplished this year.

  1. Colonial Canopy Trees became an official 501(c)3 non-profit organization. This allows our donors to deduct donations from their taxes, and opens up more grant and funding opportunities for us. 
  2. We received our first grant in 2021, thanks to Earth Uprising and Ecosia. The grant was awarded to youth-led movements that fight climate change in creative ways. We used the funds to plant more trees!
  3. Colonial Canopy Trees became an official Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) Tree Tenders group for the Plymouth-Whitemarsh area! The Tree Tender program plants thousands of trees in the greater Philadelphia area each year by building an extensive network of trained tree enthusiasts. We are excited to be a Tree Tenders group, and we are thankful for the opportunities PHS provides to our community!

Tree Totals and Planting Projects

In total, Colonial Canopy Trees planted 164 trees and shrubs in our area this year. We also donated 19 Dawn Redwood saplings to Marquand Park Arboretum in New Jersey for children to plant with their parents, bringing our 2021 total to 183 plants!

If you have a wet area on your property, consider planting a River Birch
Volunteers planted 32 trees in a riparian zone along Mathers Lane!
Miles Park has 11 new trees, thanks to funding from Whitemarsh Township & donations!

Of the 164 we planted, 103 were in Whitemarsh Township, 51 were in Plymouth Township, 3 in Conshohocken, 3 in Glenside, 3 in Abington and 1 in Philadelphia. 

Many of these trees were planted in our township parks. In total, we planted 84 new trees at 12 different parks, including 11 trees at Miles Park and 10 at Cedar Grove Park, thanks to funding from Whitemarsh Township and generous donors. We also planted trees on private property, as residents join the effort to add more trees to our dwindling canopy.

We added 32 native, water-loving trees in a riparian zone along Mathers Lane in Whitemarsh. A small stream runs through this township-owned parcel, subjecting the site to intense flooding during rain events. These trees will help reduce flooding and improve water quality before the stream reaches the Wissahickon. It will add much needed habitat for wildlife after the recent tornado destruction in the area. We will continue planting at this site next year.

5 blight-resistant American Chestnuts were donated to us by Christopher Sohnly of Spruce Hollow Designs, and planted in Whitemarsh!
We planted 3 new PHS Tree Tenders trees at Baederwood Park in Glenside!

In Plymouth Township, we’ve worked closely with residents near Sandwood Park to help restore this natural and undeveloped park into a forest full of native plants. We hope to restore the tree canopy and understory, reduce grass mowing, and provide more habitat and food for pollinators, insects and birds.

We are immensely grateful to Whitemarsh and Plymouth township staff for collaborating with us to get more trees in the ground this year! We also want to thank Colonial School District staff for working with us to plant trees on school district property.

Donations

We are so thankful for those who contributed to our efforts this year. In total, we had 47 monetary donations, totaling over $3,500! We’ve spent about $2,500 on trees and fencing, which helped us tackle various projects, large and small. You can make a tax-deductible contribution by visiting our donation page.

Many of you have generously dug up and donated your own seedlings, saplings, nursery pots, and fencing material! Of our 164 planted trees and shrubs this year, 29 of them were donated by local residents! Many others are overwintering in our nurseries, hoping for a permanent home in 2022.

Volunteers

We could not have achieved our goals for 2021 without the help of our volunteers! We held a total of 14 events, and engaged over 100 volunteers who generously gave over 300 hours of their time and physical effort. Thank you!

Rob and his son, Ruben, were frequent volunteers with us this summer!
Dan and Boaz are Tree Stewards who adopted two trees, and planted many more!
Volunteers mulch a new Swamp White Oak at Miles Park!

We launched a “Tree Steward” program, where residents who live near newly-planted trees can “adopt” a tree to take care of. Our Tree Stewards visited their adopted trees regularly to water, pull weeds, and report any issues. Their super important work helps ensure that newly-planted trees will thrive!

Education

This past Spring, local Girl Scout Troop 7511 helped us plant ten 8-12′ trees in Plymouth and Whitemarsh. Because of this great work, the girls recently received their Bronze Award – the highest honor a junior Girl Scout can receive! They attended educational Zoom calls with us to learn about planting and caring for trees, and then applied their knowledge in the field! Recently, they put together this great video showcasing what they learned from the experience.

The Girl Scouts planted 5 new trees at Koontz Park…
…and at Plymouth Elementary School!

Colonial Canopy Trees joined the 5th grade class at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Philadelphia to plant a Flowering Dogwood on their campus. Over 30 students helped to plant, water and care for the tree. Students applied what they had learned in the classroom to ask great questions about trees and our environment!

When we meet with residents and township staff, we are always happy to share what we have learned about the numerous benefits of trees, and best practices for planting and stewarding trees. We focus on native trees and shrubs to better serve as habitats and food sources for native fauna. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us through our website, or email us at ColonialCanopy@gmail.com.

Looking Forward to 2022!

As the cold weather sets in, our recently-planted trees have been weeded and mulched, bedded down for winter dormancy. We are now planning for planting projects in the 2022 season. If you have any suggestions or would like more trees in your area, please get in touch with us at colonialcanopy@gmail.com.

We hope you have a great holiday season, and we hope to see you in the spring! Thanks for all you do!
Andrew Conboy and Karen Kabnick

Colonial Canopy Trees Plants 24 New Trees

To celebrate the end of Earth Week in proper fashion, Colonial Canopy Trees (CCT) planted 24 new trees throughout Whitemarsh and Plymouth Townships this past weekend. Check out the photo gallery here!

We recently became an official Tree Tenders group through the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. This program requires at least three individuals from a group to take a short course on tree planting and care. After completing the course, that group is able to purchase large, bare-root trees in the Spring and Fall each year for a great price.

For Spring 2021, Whitemarsh Township purchased 14 trees, and CCT purchased 10. We rallied volunteers to help plant all 24 trees over two days. Girl Scouts Troop 7511 planted 5 trees at Koontz Park and 5 trees at Plymouth Elementary. We presented a short PowerPoint presentation about tree planting and care to the Girl Scouts troops and their parents prior to the planting event, and gave a planting demonstration in person. We hope the girls learned a lot and enjoyed the great work that they did! The remainder of the trees were planted by local volunteers.

In addition to our volunteers, we would like to thank everyone else who made this project possible. Thank you to Whitemarsh Township for planting 14 trees and showing commitment to greening our community. Thank you to Whitemarsh Parks staff for helping dig, water, and mulch the new trees. Lastly, Thank you to our donors who contributed to Colonial Canopy Trees and this project.

For an interactive map of planting locations and species, click here and type in “Colonial Canopy Tree Tenders” in the search.

Here is the list of locations of the 24 trees:

Leeland Park:

  • 3x Zelkova serrata ‘Green Vase’Japanese Zelkova
  • Acer freemanii ‘Autumn Blaze’Freeman’s Maple

Valley Green Park:

  • 2x Acer freemanii ‘Autumn Blaze’ – Freeman’s maple
  • 3x Platanus occidentalis – American Sycamore

Koontz Park:

  • 3x Gymnocladus dioicus – Kentucky Coffee Tree ‘Espresso’
  • 2x Betula nigra River Birch

Colonial School District:

  • 2x Zelkova serrata ‘Green Vase’Japanese Zelkova PWHS sign along Germantown Pike
  • 3x Acer freemanii ‘Autumn Blaze’ Freeman’s Maple Hybrid – Victory Fields (above JV softball)
  • 3x Acer saccharum ‘Autumn Fest’ Sugar Maple – Plymouth Elementary near parking lot
  • 2x Platanus occidentalis American Sycamore – Plymouth Elementary along Plymouth Road

2020 Planting Season Totals & Summary

A Closer Look at Trees Planted

After our official launch in summer of 2020, we quickly got to planting and restoring trees in the Plymouth, Conshohocken and Whitemarsh areas! In total, we planted 49 new trees:

Planting native trees offers many benefits to birds, insects and other wildlife. We planted a good variety of native species in 2020. Here is a breakdown:

Although not as useful for wildlife in our area, non-native (but not invasive) trees can still be useful in sequestering carbon, purifying the air and fighting climate change. Trees like the Dawn Redwood and Ginkgo are relatively popular ornamental trees that do well in a variety of conditions and very rarely escape cultivation or harm native vegetation. In 2020, we planted 8 Dawn Redwoods, 1 Ginkgo biloba and 1 London Plane Tree.

Donations

We are so thankful for the many of you who joined us in our efforts this year. In total, we had 8 monetary donors who provided $275 for tree planting initiatives. To date, we used $71.25 to purchase and plant 3 trees, like the one you see below.

Andrew Conboy planting a tree in the ground.

This Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) was planted at Sandwood Park on the border of Plymouth Township and Conshohocken.

We also planted a 10-foot Red Maple (Acer rubrum) at Sutcliffe Park in Conshohocken. This Red Maple replaced a dead tree near the new playground and basketball courts at the park.

We plan to use remaining funds to purchase additional trees and seedlings next season!

Eight of you donated tree seedlings to us from your property this year, for a total of 57 trees! Most of these are overwintering right now, and will grow in our nursery for some time before planting in a permanent spot. However, 13 of these were already planted in the ground, and we will continue to monitor and care for them as they mature.

While some seedling donations may not survive the transplanting process, we are very grateful to those who take the time to save them. The prospect of restoring our canopy with free, local and native seedlings is an exciting thought to us!

Lastly, 8 of you donated supplies like seed starting trays, nursery pots and soil. Your trays are currently helping us cold-stratify many seeds in hopes of sprouting countless seedlings this spring, and your nursery pots are likely housing an overwintering tree!

Events

We had one large planting event this year in the Whitemarsh Woods neighborhood. This neighborhood has lost a number of mature trees due to the Emerald Ash Borer and other factors. Here, we planted 24 of our own trees, and helped plant 16 additional nursery-bought white Pines (Pinus strobus).

Many Cub Scouts from Troops 140 and 1140 joined us and were a huge help! Whitemarsh Woods residents and outside community residents pitched in, too. It was a busy day, but we are so happy to have helped with this project! Click here to see the photo gallery for this project!

Summary

We are so happy with our first year of work, but we are extremely excited about 2021 – we know it will be a big year for tree planting!

Thank you for supporting us and for doing your part in fighting climate change and environmental issues!

Photo Credit: Jaymantri at jaymantri.com/