Three Ways to Welcome Fall

Liz Allen

Arborist Mark Spitulski stops at Elbow Tree Park during a tree walk September 12 in Lawrence Park Township, sponsored by the Iroquois Secondary Library.

For leaf voyeurs, fall means a leisurely stroll to admire the foliage, but this season I fell in love with fall banter at a secondary library, Sunday brunch, and farmers’ market.

In September, Jessica Stefano, Director of the Iroquois Library, organized a host of activities around the trees, including an energizing and educational walk through the leafy township of Lawrence Park.

Mark Spitulski, owner of MKS Arborist Services, led the walk and promised that in about an hour we’d see up to 30 different species, arching the streets, sprouting in the front yards and populating the treasured Elbow Tree Park. of the township.

As we walked, we tasted red berries from Kousa dogwoods, learned that crabapples are edible and that we can also eat acorns, although they “taste bad,” said Stefano, a former environmental educator at Asbury Woods. . Walnuts are sweet enough to snack on too; Native Americans used them to create a drink similar to almond milk.

Spitulski pointed to serviceberries, which produce edible fruit and are a great alternative to ornamental Bradford pears. As a bonus, they also attract birds such as cedar waxwings.

Acacia trees serve as a natural pergola, providing shade and filtering light.

Don’t worry about peeling bark from sycamores, he says. It’s part of the natural process. “Losing its bark is a bit like losing a snake,” Stefano added.

But Spitulski warned that certain gardening habits, like piling on too much mulch, will damage healthy trees. And if the same species are planted and lined up along the streets for beautification, the trees will age at about the same time. “Biodiversity is so important right now,” he said.

Stefano is a big fan of ginkgo trees, which she describes as “living fossils,” as well as red oak, which she describes as the #1 tree in the United States for biodiversity. Although not native to this country, it is not invasive and red oak trees are a “huge food source for other wildlife”, she said.

Spitulski said fall is a good time to assess your own trees for insects and disease, when you can see bare branches and watch the crown for signs of stress. Arborists don’t do fall treatments, but “scrutinize that time of year, identify those issues, and then make a plan for next spring,” he said.

Spitulski also described threats to specific species: insect galls and Rhizosphaera (a needled fungus) on spruces; beech leaf disease; spider mites and woolly aphid on hemlocks, the state tree of Pennsylvania. The emerald ash borer remains a threat in the Erie region, but infected trees can be treated and saved. He expects the spotted lanternfly to make its way here, harming vineyards and orchards.

“Trees are a living thing. The sooner you find out what the problem is, the better in the long run,” he said.

Of course, treetop walks are meant to be fun as well as educational, and Spitulski, who spends “all day, every day, looking at the trees,” also pointed to the good things he spotted along the way. of our itinerary, like the graceful drooping of Norway spruce branches and the artistic leaves of tulip poplars.

To boost your tree IQ, you can organize your own walk, he suggests — at the Lake Erie Arboretum in Frontier Park, Asbury Woods, or at your nearby church, school, neighborhood, or college campus. To take notes. Compare what you see. Admire the landscapes and remember that being surrounded by trees improves people’s health. Some countries, he said, even have a name for the tree-human connection: forest bathing.

Janet Woods, co-founder of Hurry Hill Maple Farm and Museum, 11424 Fry Road in Edinboro, is well aware of the health benefits of trees, especially maples.

Hurry Hill is buzzing during maple sugaring season in March, but fall is also the perfect time for a self-guided walking tour of the Hurry Hill woods. Visit for a printable map or to scan the QR codes for the 14 stop trail. You will discover the trees that were cleared to create the original agricultural land, the maple groves that began to take root in 1998 for the exploitation of sugar and the large old maple over 200 years old.

In the museum you can immerse yourself in the history of Miracles at Maple Hill, the Newberry Award-winning children’s book by Virginia Sorensen, set in Edinboro. You’ll also find Woods’ new cookbook, Maple Syrup Recipes, with 10 food categories and 170 recipes, from starters to main courses. I felt like a farm-to-table owner when I recently served homemade waffles with pure maple syrup from Hurry Hill for Sunday brunch.

Woods reminds his readers that residents of Pennsylvania should have a special affection for trees. “” Sylvania means forest in Latin. Pennsylvania means Penn’s Sylvania or Penn’s Woods,” she writes in her book. “Maple trees give us the spectacular fall colors of yellow, red, and orange.”

She sprinkles maple-themed facts on every page of her book. This is where I learned that Grandma Moses was in her 80s when, in the 1940s, she painted her beloved art “Sugaring Off” depicting the old fashioned syrup making process. Hailed as an exemplary example of primitive art, it sold for $1.2 million in 2006.

Fredy Huaman Mallqui, a classic woodcarver from Peru, calls the carving he made from a storm-damaged maple tree “Nest of Dreams.” It is part of the public art displayed on the “Field of Dreams” property used by the Sisters of St. Joseph neighborhood network for its Farmer’s Market, in the 300 block of West 18th Street.

Fredy Huaman Mallqui also uses beautiful trees in his art, but at a different stage in their existence – after they have been damaged or died.

A classic woodcarver since age 9 in his native Peru, “I’ve been doing this all my life,” said Huaman Mallqui, 42, who lives in Erie with his family.

He enjoys working walnut or linden for his art, which includes beautiful furniture, but when the neighborhood network of the Sisters of St. Joseph asked for proposals to reuse a damaged maple tree, he applied and was chosen for the project. .

His tree sculpture is part of the landscape at SSJNN’s Field of Dreams in the 300 block of West 18th Street, where the weekly Little Italy Farmers’ Market just ended its season.

“When a storm damaged the tree…but left the trunk intact, we immediately saw the potential for a new form of public art that we had never been able to install before,” said Heather May Caspar, executive director of SSJNN.

“As with many of our public art projects, we put out a request for proposals, and we met Fredy simply as the one who responded to our RFP. Of course, his submission blew us away and was the choice obvious,” she said. “Fredy had previously taken the time to observe exactly how we and the neighbors were already using the space as a farmers’ market, and created a remarkably thoughtful sculpture that captured the growth and life-sustaining mission behind the building. “Our market’s goal is to increase access to locally grown and healthy produce,” she said.

Huaman Mall’s design began as “a one-dimensional image” on paper, he said. “The challenge is how to translate one dimension into three dimensions.”

The tree trunk also presented another obstacle – it couldn’t be moved as it worked with a variety of grinders (but not sanders) to create a sculpture of a face, hands, sun, flowers and seeds. . Huaman Mallqui is also an art teacher, including at the university level, and he invited people to join him while he was working. “At almost all times there were two or three other people working alongside him, which was unexpected and also wonderful to see,” May Caspar said.

The Huaman Mallqui sculpture is in good public art company. “Fredy’s piece joins an interactive art fence installed by Designs in Iron, a triptych mural designed by Tom Ferraro and Ed Grout, and some beautiful flowers and landscaping on site,” said May Caspar.

“Art is meant to make you ‘feel’ something, and all of these elements do just that. The fence is playful; the mural tells a story connecting the neighborhood’s past, present, and future; and the landscaping landscape changes with the seasons,” she says. “Fredy named his sculpture ‘Nest of Dreams’ and when you look closer you see that the whole trunk is made to look like it’s chock full of seeds. It really makes you want to reach out. hand and touch – literally feel – the shapes and textures that represent growth, life and potential.”

Huaman Mallqui knows that each viewer will walk away with their own interpretation of his woodcarving. But he hopes they will “think about life itself, how we repurpose nature and how that nature gives us everything we have”.

How lucky we are to have people from Erie helping us all see the forest and the trees.

Liz Allen, who grew up climbing trees and building treehouses with her brother and their friends, can be reached at [email protected]

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When Jessica Stefano was hired as the branch manager of the Iroquois Library, she immediately noticed the abundance and variety of trees in Lawrence Park Township, where the library is located. Libraries help connect patrons to the places and things of ordinary patron life, so offering programs for adults and children was a natural fit for the Iroquois branch, she said.

A former environmental educator at Asbury Woods, Stefano can recommend many good tree books from the library’s collection, but two of his favorites are The nature of oak treesby Douglas W Tallamy, for older readers, and little sapfor children, written by Jan Hughes and illustrated by Ruth Hengeveld.

The nature of oak trees“, she said, “really delves into the role of oak trees in the world and biodiversity both in the forest and just in the backyard. “

little sap explains to children how trees fit into the larger environment.