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Arborists take on black walnut tree at Woodlawn Memorial Park

One big tree gets a haircut

A black walnut tree likely as old as Woodlawn Memorial Park at 160-years-old was treated to some overdue care on Saturday.

At the inaugural tree care event put on by Guelph Tree Trust (GTT) arborists hoisted themselves up high into the tree to saw off dead limbs to give the tree a much needed haircut.

Part of why Margaret Stewart attended the tree care event was because she wanted to see the arborists at work. “I also wanted to know how they’re taking on maintaining these older trees,” she said.

“Trees don’t have an option to stop growing,” said  Rob Shaw-Lukavsky, GTT member. “They will grow to the point of where the structure doesn’t support itself.”

“As a city we have a responsibility for the stewardship of the land on which we live and work. As citizens we’re stewards of trees on that land and Tree Trust organization grateful cares for the elder trees,” said Shaw-Lukavsky, as part of the land acknowledgment. 

Black walnuts are a traditional food source, he said.

“Increasingly we are aware that it’s the big trees that are really important in our community,” said Toni Ellis, director of GTT.

It takes about 250 saplings to do the work of one big tree, she said.

“We recognize that management of the mature forest, the big trees also require support,” said Martin Litchfield, president of Rotary Club of Guelph South, which sponsored the event.

“To maintain the health of those trees for oxygen and controlling carbon dioxide we realized it was time for us to help out on that side of forestry, that side of climate change,” said Litchfield, in an interview with GuelphToday.

“I’ve got to say that is a pretty special tree,” said Mike Schreiner, Guelph MPP. 

“We know to have healthy forests and healthy communities we have to have mature trees like this walnut,” Schreiner said.

He thanked GTT for helping preserve elder trees and making sure Guelph has healthy forests.

“I think one of the lessons learned from the pandemic is just how important access to nature is for our mental and physical well being,” said Schreiner.

City councillor Phil Allt referred to the trees in Woodlawn Memorial Park as an oxygen factory.

“I think quite often we forget cemeteries are essentially a living place and an affirmation of life. And the trees that we see around us are helping us all to breathe better,” said Allt.

The cemetery is a place that confirms how important the circle of life is, he said.

The black walnut tree is a reminder of the squirrel who planted a black walnut in Allt’s backyard. 

He cheered on the squirrels for planting. We need more black walnuts to keep away invasive species, he said.

“As a not-for-profit organization Woodlawn has limited resources for the care and preservation of historical species like our black walnut,” said Rebecca Kit, general manager at Woodlawn Memorial Park.

“This is only one of many historical living pillars in this cemetery,” said Kit. “It truly is a wonderful place for the living.”

The cemetery has been known as an unofficial arboretum, she said.


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Santana Bellantoni

About the Author: Santana Bellantoni

Santana Bellantoni was born and raised in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. As a general assignment reporter for Guelph Today she is looking to discover the communities, citizens and quirks that make Guelph a vibrant city.
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