Hallowell's Historic Horticulture

September 27, 2023

The Hallowell Tree Board (HTB), the Hallowell Conservation Commission (HCC), and the City of Hallowell are collaborating to restore the natural ecology at the Granite City Park (GCP) along the shoreline of the Kennebec River. The success of the restoration depends on educating the public, and planting and maintaining native trees and shrubs to replace the invasive Japanese Knotweed, Norway Maples and Multiflora Roses that have infested the area.

The HTB has a long history of improving the community forests and the urban natural environment. Over the last twenty years, over 200 trees have been planted, two gateways into Hallowell were established, public trees have been mapped, trees have been pruned and mulched, and a forest management plan for the 165-acre town forest was presented to the city council. The Tree Board has also collaborated with HCC on projects such as trail planning, brown tail moth control, and invasive weed control at selected sites.

The Granite City Park has been continuously improved over the past 20 years with the cooperation of the City and community organizations. In June 2008, the City of Hallowell financed and finished the construction of a boardwalk on the waterfront and set the stage for the new Granite City Park. The centerpiece of the park is a historic restored crane salvaged from the granite quarries which provided construction granite for the Maine State Capitol and numerous other private and public buildings in major American cities. Prior to the 2014 installation of the crane, the Tree Board planted a shad bush which is now part of the park. In 2019, the Hallowell Conservation Committee, with assistance from the City and community volunteers, planted an attractive three season pollinator garden designed to please the eye of the visitor and provide a food source for beneficial insects. In 2020, the Tree Board planted a sugar maple and the Hallowell Board of Trade donated an ornamental cherry. Both complement the area near to the flower garden.

The 2021 Project Canopy Grant has transformed the area and dramatically increased the usable space and attractiveness of the park. The result has received unanimous appreciation from the public, for land that was inaccessible and hidden in a forest of knotweed. This highly visible project has heightened public awareness of the importance of native forests and plants to rivers and community. The project provided resources to support ongoing partnerships among local groups to actively manage trees and shrubs. The experience of planting and seeing the transformation of the landscape with native trees and shrubs is very encouraging to the team of volunteers and the public at large.

This 2023 Project Canopy Grant is to continue Hallowell's successful efforts with increased education efforts, the installation of an informational kiosk describing the restoration project, and additional plantings. The Hallowell Project Canopy Planning and Education grant proposal will leverage work at the park into an educational opportunity for the community. Hallowell will continue the restoration project while informing and educating the community about why and how the ecosystem is recovering through the planting of trees, shrubs and ground covers. The foundation of the educational component includes the continued planting and knotweed cut back to restoring the site and educate the public as progress is demonstrated.

The project is in a highly visible urban area and provides an excellent opportunity for public education regarding the value of the diversified native ecology including trees, shrubs, and ground over to protect water and support a vibrant ecosystem.

(excerpt from 2023 Project Canopy Community Forestry Grant Application)