News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, August 2, 2018
Elm trees celebrated in Castine

Celebrating the elms

Childrens’ artwork featuring elm trees is on display during a celebration of the Castine elm trees at Witherle Memorial Library on July 26.

Photo by Monique Labbe Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Monique Labbe

The Castine Tree Committee celebrated over 300 elm trees present in Castine with a group of about 20 attendees at the Witherle Memorial Library on July 26.

Julie Gardner and Chris Poulin provided soft blues music as people talked with town arborist Bill Burman and various committee members, including Don Tenney and Julie Van de Graff, about the conservation of the town’s elm trees and future work to protect them.

The town has lost several elm trees to Dutch elm disease, and while the disease had subsided, it has made a recent resurgence—the reason for which is little more than Mother Nature, according to Tenney.

“When Dutch elm gets resurgent, it gets really resurgent,” said Burman while giving a talk about his work on the elm trees in Castine.

As the town arborist, Burman has worked relentlessly to conserve the elms that are left in town, many of which line Main Street and Court Street.

Burman said the actions taken for many years included pruning, removing dead trees and debris, and structural repair. All of that, though, is not enough to prevent the disease from infecting the trees.

The town has begun a process called inoculation, where a healthy tree is injected with a dose of a water-chemical mixture. The injection provides a preventive measure to protect the tree from infection, which is primarily spread by a beetle as small as a grain of rice, though it can also spread through the roots. Currently, 52 of the “most significant streetscape trees” have been treated, Burman said, with another 25 trees slated for inoculation this summer.

After Burman finished his presentation, Johanna Sweet added a theatrical touch to the event with a monologue from the first-person narrative of a Castine elm tree. The tree remembered weddings of generations past, as well as the children, families, events and artists that have gone through Castine over the centuries.

A raffle was also held during the event, with prizes including a painting by Josh Adam, an overnight and dinner at the Pentagöet Inn, a book, and wood-carved items created by Temple Blackwoodfrom removed Castine elms.