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Bringing back Gilded Age trees to Newport
By Connie Grosch / February 23, 2018 /   Loading Disqus...

Newport, Rhode Island is a living museum of American horticultural history. From the Colonial era through the Gilded Age, collectors, scientists, and amateur botanists planted the city with an extraordinary array of specimen trees, many of which were gathered by tree hunters from across the globe.

The most impressive trees in Newport’s urban forest were planted during the Gilded Age and are now on the wane. Arborists estimate that over half of the original European Copper Beech population has been lost in just the last decade. A major die off of mature English Oaks has also begun. The Gilded Age forest as a whole is reaching the end of its natural lifespan.

"As they preserve the genetic lines of ancient heritage trees, students will develop cutting edge skills in botany, and better understand their city's past while working to create a vibrant, healthy, and resilient shared future."                                                                            — Helen Papp, Director, Newport Tree Society

Armed with a grant from our Newport County Fund -- one of dozens the fund made to local nonprofits last year -- the Newport Heritage Tree Program seeks to cultivate that history. Teaming up with Rogers High School horticulture students, they have undertaken an ambitious project to locate, document, and propagate Newport’s most special and endangered trees. The first step: construct a horticulture polyhouse on the high school campus. This 28’ x 80’ “grow house” is the propagation center and nursery where much of the students’ work will take place.


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