Gardening November 2020

With St. John’s Church in the background, the tree on left is Nyssa Sylvatica – Black Gum Tree, and the tree on the right is Cercis Canadensis – Redbud Tree

From Mélie’s Garden

In 2011 and 20012 Fishers Island was hit by two hurricanes Irene and Sandy. And in the winter, “super storm” Nemo. All three produced significant tree damage to the Island. The three Fishers Island Cemeteries were not spared and a number of old trees were lost. Penelope Sharp and I, both Fishers Island Cemetery Committee Members, were given the task to replace the damaged trees in the three Cemeteries.  Penni, a noted naturalist, consulted Edward Richardson, who was a member of The Connecticut Botanical Society and a co-founder of the Connecticut Notable Tree Project. Mr. Richardson gave us an excellent list of native trees to plant in the Cemetery.

In 2013 and 2014 with generous donations from the Fishers Island Conservancy and many Fishers Islanders with family plots in the cemeteries, we were able to replace the damaged trees, the majority of which are thriving today, even in our challenging environment.

Edward Richardson’s Native Tree List

Carya glabra – Pignut Hickory
Cercis Canadensis – Redbud
Cornus Florida – Native Dogwood
Franklinia Alatamaha Bartram – Franklinia
Nyssa Sylvatica – Black tupelo – Black Gum
Oxydendrum arboretum – Sourwood
Quercus Candensis – Swamp White Oak

Later we added Magnoliaceae – Magnolia “Butterflies” to the list and Cornus Kousa, a Korean Dogwood, which is now listed as a native by seeding itself in American woodlands over the past number of years. The Swamp White Oak – Quercus Candensis did not do well and was replaced. But the Redbuds, Franklinas, Nyssas, and Oxydendrum have grown well along with the Kousa Dogwoods and an American Holly we added a couple of years ago. Mercifully we have had very minor storm damage these past few years and one of the Redbuds that was damaged a year ago has survived after a bit of special care and pruning. I never visit the cemetery today without thinking of my wonderful friend Penni Sharp and the joy we had replacing the old damaged trees with these thriving new ones.  I pray she is resting in peace under their shelter.

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