2012-02-23 / Letters

Fulton House Tree: Pruned Or Butchered?


Editor’s Note: Planted in April 1998, this European hornbeam was the first tree planted as part of the McConnellsburg Main Street Program’s streetscape improvement project along a two-block stretch of Lincoln Way in the downtown. The hornbeam was purchased by the McConnellsburg Woman’s Club and donated to the project, and the cost of planting the tree was underwritten by The Fulton Co. National Bank & Trust Co. McConnellsburg Borough was one of several downtown property owners that agreed to participate in the project. Editor’s Note: Planted in April 1998, this European hornbeam was the first tree planted as part of the McConnellsburg Main Street Program’s streetscape improvement project along a two-block stretch of Lincoln Way in the downtown. The hornbeam was purchased by the McConnellsburg Woman’s Club and donated to the project, and the cost of planting the tree was underwritten by The Fulton Co. National Bank & Trust Co. McConnellsburg Borough was one of several downtown property owners that agreed to participate in the project. To The Editor:

Are you selecting a tree? Planting one? Pruning one? Disease problem?

Please call the Penn State Extension office first, for expert advice, free.

The Fulton County Extension office is across from the courthouse in McConnellsburg, or just dial 717-485-4111.

If they can’t answer your question in the office, your inquiry will be referred to someone who can help.

On a scale of good, bad, or awful, and as an untrained observer, I’d rank what happened across the street from my office as dismal.

Most of the trees planted along the sidewalks in downtown McConnellsburg are Bradford pears, selected to bloom each spring, grow tall and slender, and not have any pears ripening in the fall.

The tree next to the small garden next to the Fulton House is a hornbeam, which grew slowly in its spot and had a conical top that could both welcome an occasional bird and also provide some summer shade from its leafy top, if you were seated on the bench placed there.

It was lovely. I know. I’ve watched that beautiful tree grow, from my office across the street, and I’ve sat on the bench and enjoyed the breeze and shade provided.

Look at the trees up and down Lincoln Way.

Some are still shaped like slender trees and some have been lightly pruned, but some have had their tops removed.

A tree that is “pruned” that way will sprout spindly sucker branches, without the strength needed for a growing tree. It will never regain the desired outline.

Yes, some branches may need attention. The answer is to decide what the plan is for the tree.

Is it a specimen tree, designed to grow out and up?

Is it a shade tree, planted the right distance from your home to shade it and keep it cool in the summer?

Is it a fruit tree, needing an open shape for fruit to ripen well, or planned for harvesting from the ground or a stepstool?

Correct pruning needs planning, not just a saw.

What happened at the Fulton House is a travesty, which destroyed many years of care and slow growth.

Don’t let that happen to your tree(s), in town or at home.

Call 485-4111 first, weekdays, for advice.

Barbara Leese

McConnellsburg

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