Cars slowed as they rounded the corner of Field Point Rd at West Elm Thursday morning to see the giant crane lowering a sizeable Magnolia tree onto the lawn at First Lutheran Church. The tree replaces a century old Copper Beech tree that was badly damaged in a wind storm last August.
The Magnolia planted on Thursday was a “juvenile,” as opposed to a sapling, and came with a tidy price tag of $22,000.
Frank Parker, who works in the office building next to the church, and happens to be a member of the Greenwich Tree Conservancy board, said he had admired the Beech tree from his office window for 35 years.
“The Beech Tree was huge and filled the entire area,” he recalled, going on to explain the fundraising for its replacement. “We pulled in a lot of people. Peter Malkin and I took an interest in putting something in here. He contributed. The Greenwich Tree Conservancy contributed. The owners of the office building contributed. And Eversource contributed,” he said. “It took a while but we got the money.”
Mr. Parker said John Conte of Fairfield House & Garden sourced the tree from Pennsylvania and provided the crew to deliver and plant it.
“Hopefully this tree will last many, many decades and contribute to the entire town,” Parker said. “It’s not just for this church and this building.”
Parker said that when the tree was badly damaged in the wind storm, with limbs falling, it exposed quite a bit of rot.
“It had a six or seven foot diameter,” he said, adding that one of its limbs smashed through an office windows.
“The tree warden, Dr. Greg Kramer, came over and said the tree was unsafe and had to be taken down. It was very sad.”
“This is wonderful,” said Pastor Evan Scamman from First Lutheran Church who is also pastor at St Paul Lutheran Church in Byram as the crew filled in around the root ball with soil.
Pastor Scamman said that after the extensive flooding at St Paul’s in Byram, the church didn’t have the funds for a new tree.
He said the church was even happier to discover the tree would have a 15-year head start over a sapling.
“This is a new experience for me,” said Pastor Scamman who came to Greenwich three years ago. “Coming from the west coast and being in the Midwest for my training, people don’t come together this way for a tree.”
“It’s a beautiful thing because chances are the tree might be here once we’re gone,” he said.
Mr. Parker had been supporting the church over the years. “We looked at (the tree) and helped pay for trimming and feeding,” he said. “But the event last August was the end of the tree.”
“The Tree Conservancy is very excited that residents came out to support the replacement of such an iconic tree,” said Greenwich Tree Conservancy executive director JoAnn Messina, who added that the Copper Beech had been designated a “Treasured Tree” by her organization.