The willow tree is a symbol of hope for tomorrow. It was planted by my family and the NJ Tree Foundation, a partner of Plant One Million. The garden represents a space full of spirituality and dreaming.
Peace and relaxation; a silent place to sit while contemplating and relaxing and a place where neighbors come to pray and meditate; to get away from the dangerous streets in the urban ghetto of Camden.
The willow tree represents new life for the community, throughout development and change. This tree marks the awakening of Camden in the midst of an urban tree canopy we long awaited in a neighborhood with the potential to be greater than anyone ever expected.
Our community members fight poverty every day, yet the willow tree remains a peaceful place in our community, helping our residents to see the importance of our urban canopy.
During my time with PowerCorpsPHL, I have worked in the community to make the environment more sustainable. I had a passion to save trees, plants, and other species that were known to provide resources for the community.
This day out in the field we worked in the Manayunk section of the city. I stumbled across this humongous tree in the Roxborough Reservoir being suffocated by vines. My goal was to remove the vines so the tree could have a better chance of living and continue providing resources for the environment. I felt that this tree was special and was in so much need of help.
I couldn’t restrain myself from helping this tree because I knew it meant so much more to me. As I cut and cut, it seemed as though the tree was being reborn again.
Never before had I felt a connection with a tree, but this one was different and I never thought I could feel this passionate about a tree. I hugged the tree as though I knew its gratitude for the change in me and what I am doing for the community. This picture was taken because of the effort I showed and to commemorate what can be done from wanting to make a change in the environment!
A year ago I decided to plant trees on my street. Even before they were in the ground they attracted a lot of interest:
– A guy in a Porsche to me swinging a pickaxe: “You need to slide your right hand up and down. It’ll be much easier.” (It was.)
– A preschooler: “Why are you digging a hole?”
“To plant a tree.”
“Why don’t you plant flowers?”
– A lady in heels: “I don’t know what you’re doing, but thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!”
– A guy in scrubs: “What kind of tree should I plant on my street?”
– A young guy walking a bulldog: “You don’t need to do that. Trees will grow in anything.”
– An older man pointing his cane: “You’re never going to keep the trucks from running over those trees.”
A year later the appreciation for the trees has only grown:
– A note in the pit, “ Whoever planted these beautiful trees, THANK YOU!”
– The UPS man, “How did you get those trees to grow so fast?”
– A man leaning on a walker, “Did you see the little buds on the trees? They just make me happy.”
I got this tree as a seedling after I came back from a trip to nurseries in St. Michael’s, MD, with the Delaware Center for Horticulture. They offered us the seedlings when we returned.
We love the tree for its shape and the fragrant flowers that produce interesting fruit.
My husband lovingly prunes it to keep its shape. A friend noted that it is especially lovely since it has maintained a single trunk and has not clumped. The birds flock to the thistle feeder we have placed under it. It is also special since it is a native. I took his picture under the tree since he is the caregiver.
Our tree is a Trident Maple, planted in 1998, in front of our house, on League Street, Philadelphia. The tree came from the Bel Arbor Tree Farm, 1000 Washington Avenue, a project where my community partnered with PHS to beautify a blighted lot. Until this tree was planted (along with four others), our block was completely treeless.
My tree has thrived under our family’s care and now reaches well above the third story of our home. Our block has three block parties annually and everyone gravitates to the shade of our tree. On a daily basis, neighbors gather, children play, and birds roost in the tree. It has transformed the block!
I was just a stick when I was planted back in 1951. Small pieces of twine secured me to wooden stakes and kept me from falling over until I learned to balance on my own. Every 70 feet other small trees were anchored in the same fashion. We stood at attention like toy soldiers, new houses just 30 feet behind us. Sadly, some of us didn’t survive. I was one of the lucky ones.
At 20 I was hosting a couple of squirrel nests and was tall enough to see for 10 miles in every direction. I hate to admit it, but I was a bit wild back then.
At 25 I was abandoned, but that spring I met my new people. They called me Maple. I liked them immediately. They trimmed my unruly branches and during big storms they worried I might fall, but I stayed strong.
I’m a bona fide member of their family now. If you want proof, check out their snapshots. Yep, that’s me in the background, silently cleaning their air, embracing them in my shade and being photographed as a member of their family for over 40 years.