2006-01-27 / Columnists

On The Bayfront

By Elisa Hinken

It’s that time of year again – time to start planning your garden. The Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) annual tree and shrub seedling sale is now underway. Low cost seedlings certainly help encourage tree planting. The sale will continue through May.

DEC’s Saratoga Nursery produces over 48 species of trees and shrubs for planting on public and private land and will have a variety of shrubs and seedlings available, including conifers, hardwoods, container stock, and wildlife shrubs. The minimum order for conifers and wildlife shrubs is 100, for hardwoods is 25, and for container stock is 50. Mixed packets of 20 - 100 wildlife shrubs are also available for homeowners to attract wildlife.

Species should be selected based on soil type at the planting site. Conifers transplant easily from the nursery to the field and require minimum care after planting. Hardwood varieties are more difficult to establish and require annual care after planting. Wildlife shrubs provide food and shelter for birds and mammals and make a good buffer between open and forested areas. They require minimal annual care depending on species. Over the years, many trees were removed because of advanced age or safety factors and never replaced. There are trees available which have low impact on sidewalks and sewer systems, such as the pin oak. Old pictures and postcards of Rockaway shows many trees, many of which are now gone. Homes in Cedarhurst and Woodmere are considered more valuable when they are on tree-lined streets.

Landowners can get planting advice from their nearest DEC forestry office or private forestry consultant. The bulletin “Trees and Shrubs” is available from the Nursery (518) 581-1439 or any DEC office.

To order seedlings, call the Saratoga Nursery weekdays between 8 am and 4:30 pm at (518) 587-1120. Call early for the best selection. Mail orders are also accepted and can be sent to the Saratoga Tree Nursery, 2369 Route 50, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Seedlings are shipped in mid April to mid May.

Now onto my other love, daffodils. Daffodils are sturdy bulbs that multiply freely. They bloom once a year, from early to mid—spring, depending on the type of daffodil. They are so beautiful. During a drive down in Virginia one March day last year, we passed acres and acres of open space along highways that were packed with blooming daffodils. These bulbs can be planted under existing lawns (grass can be peeled back), bloom and then cut back during the first cut of the lawn in spring. There is nothing so stunning to greet us on an early spring day than a field of daffodils. Since September 11th, 2001, daffodils have taken on even more meaning to New Yorkers. “The Daffodil Project”, initially funded by a multi-million dollar bequest of an elderly man to New York City, developed into a project of commemoration, reflection, love and legacy to those we lost during the terrorist attacks. All open spaces in New York City are eligible for planting of daffodils. Low cost bulbs are available through the Partnership for Parks program. If you want to plant daffodils on your own, Park Seed has 300 bulbs available for $25. However, they won’t bloom until the following Spring if you put them in this year. But like the hope for renewal we hold in our hearts, daffodils will consistently warm your homes and neighborhoods as living tributes to our fallen heroes.

As an update to my parrot column two weeks ago, bird lovers across southwestern Connecticut descended on Fairfield to try to lure back the ousted Monk Parakeets. Their street lighting company, United Illuminating removed more than 150 birds and their nests from utility poles in late 2005. The utility company’s actions prompted several protests after the birds were euthanized. Now residents are trying to build tall structures for the birds to nest in. One participant said they want to emulate the utility poles since the parakeets seem to like the height. A Darien-based animal rights group is taking United Illuminating to court to try and stop it from removing more Monk Parakeet nests from utility poles.

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