Friday, September 9, 2016

Shade(s) of things to come on the Arborway

Mature 'Princeton' American Elms, representative of Casey plantings (but not to scale)
UPDATE 9/22/16: Some of the first 15 trees planted, view east
UPDATE 9/22/16: Some of the first 15 trees planted, view west
UPDATE 9/22/16: nine trees await planting
MassDOT recently announced that the first plantings in the Casey Arborway project area will begin during the week of September 18, 2016. They intend to plant the first batch of 'Princeton' American Elms in the mainline Arborway median from Shea Circle roughly halfway to Washington Street. These stately trees are the first of 578 to be planted within the project area before work is complete.

The existing Arborway and Jamaicaway trees are an aging monoculture of Red Oaks, all equally susceptible to disease and drought pressures. But MassDOT's landscaping plans for the Casey Arborway, prepared by a team of landscape architects including the consulting staff of Crosby, Schlessinger and Smallridge, HNTB, DCR, as well as George Batchelor and Robbin Bergfors of MassDOT, specify an astounding variety of species and cultivars - and in very large quantities.

Most plants specified are native or drought-resistant varieties known to thrive in urban settings. The overall plan is designed to compliment the neighboring Arnold Arboretum, with trees and plantings arranged in collections that bring the Arboretum's bounty and beauty out into the surrounding community and enhance wildlife habitat in the corridor through a great diversity of plant life.

Three hundred and fifty three deciduous trees will ultimately be planted, including four varieties of maple, two varieties of birch, yellowwood, beech, coffetrees, locust, larch, sweetgum, tulip trees, tupelos, hophornbeams, planetrees, two varieties of oak, stewartia, lindens, elms and zelkovas. Evergreen trees to be planted include holly and arborvitae.

But it is perhaps in the 186 flowering ornamental trees specified for the project where the landscaping will really shine, providing a long-lasting display of springtime delight nearest to abutting homes, three miles of new pedestrian sidewalks and three miles of bike paths. Ornamental tree plans call for five varieties of shad trees, four different redbud varieties, seven different dogwoods, four hawthorn varieties, fringetrees, five different magnolia varieties, four different crabapples, four varieties of cherry and two lilac tree variants.

Many of the 383 shrubs included in the design are flowering varieties as well. Forsythia, hydrangea, juniper, rhododendron and spirea are all on their way to the Casey Arborway.

There will be a huge amount and variety of groundcovers and bulbs too. 16,652 one-gallon bugleweeds, sweet woodruffs, spotted dead nettles and thymes will be planted. 150 Climbing hydrangeas will soften retaining walls. 1,965 daffodil bulbs in five varieties will be harbingers of spring, and there will be 77 irises and 1,120 violets as well. 2,444 Boston ivy vines, and some 6,000 grasses in many varieties (oak sedge, fountain grass, lilyturf, switch grass, saltmeadow cordgrass and little bluestem) are to be planted, with many providing seasonal flowering, color and structure.

After years of contentious debate and years more of disruptive construction, Forest Hills and the Casey Arborway will become one of the true gems of the Emerald Necklace parkway system, a revitalized transit hub for Jamaica Plain, and a beautiful and accessible recreational corridor for Boston connecting Southwest Corridor Park, the Arnold Arboretum and Franklin Park.

The first trees being planted soon are only the beginning, shades of things to come on the Casey Arborway.

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