Eastern Redbud, the March 2015 Tree of the Month

by Ann Farnham, LLA

easternredbudThe Eastern Redbud, cercis canadensis, is among the first trees to bloom here. Blooming occurs in March-April when the buds turn into pink, white, or pink-purple legume-shaped flowers in clusters, depending on the variety, for up to three weeks. This tree is a breath of fresh air after a long and cold winter. The flowers are followed by bean-like seed pods several inches long, which drop from the tree when fully developed.

Redbud, a native deciduous tree, is found in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9, from New England and the middle Atlantic states, south to Georgia, and to Illinois and Wisconsin in the Middle West.  Ewing is in zone 6b.

The Redbud leaf, from three to five inches long, is heart-shaped and alternately arranged on a zig-zag branching habit, and is reddish-purple when new.  By summer the leaves turn shiny green, but gradually change to yellow in the fall. One variety, ‘Forest Pansy’, has purple leaves. There are, among more than 20 varieties of Eastern Redbud, some with variegated, green and white leaves.

The Eastern Redbud typically ranges from a mature height of 8’ to 20’, depending on the variety, with a spread of 6’-35’.  Some varieties have a weeping habit and this usually small-sized tree normally has multiple trunks. A specimen in Morris County has been documented as having a trunk 8’-2” in diameter, a true “Champion” Tree. Redbud does well in most soils, but not in very wet, poorly drained soil.  It likes full sun or light shade. This tree, used as an ornamental specimen, is best planted young as it does not transplant well.

Diseases do not seem to be a great problem for this beautiful tree, although Canker and Verticillium Wilt do occur. Some caterpillars enjoy the leaves as do Japanese beetles, borers and web-worms. Regular watering, pruning out dead branches, and fertilization help keep Eastern Redbud healthy.

Another name frequently used for Eastern Redbud is “Spicewood Tree”, because in the southeastern mountains of Appalachia the twigs were once used as seasoning for wild game such as venison.

In the past, the bark of the Redbud was used as an astringent in the treatment of dysentery. The flowers can be eaten in salads, or fried. Cardinals, rose-breasted grosbeaks and pheasants, deer and squirrels enjoy the seeds.

2015’s First Electronics Recycling and Document Shredding Event

mciarecycleshredeventThe Mercer County Improvement Authority (MCIA) will hold its first Electronics Recycling and Document Shredding event of 2015 this Saturday, February 7th from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm at the Sun National Bank Center in the City of Trenton[ get directions] .

Electronics Recycling

This is the perfect time to dispose of unwanted computers, monitors, televisions, printers and other electronics.  Computers contain a number of materials that should be reused as well as a number of components that are hazardous in a landfill. Laptops can contain small fluorescent lamps in the screen that contains mercury, and may also use lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. Additionally, CRT computer monitors contain lead, circuit boards may include mercury, lead and cadmium, as well as batteries made of mercury and mercury switches.
Reusable materials include:  plastic, aluminum, copper and gold. Hazardous materials include: mercury, lead and other heavy metals.

Document Shredding

This is also an opportunity to safely and securely dispose of sensitive documents.  This is one of 2 such events held each year by the MCIA.

Date: this Saturday, February 7th
Time: 9 am – 2 pm
Location: Sun National Bank Center in the City of Trenton [ get directions]
Restrictions: Mercer County residents only (proper identification required)

Save the Date! – Living Local Expo on March 28th

LLELogoThe 8th Annual Living Local Expo is in the planning stages!

Sourcing food locally is an essential part of sustainability efforts. Visitors to the 8th annual Living Local Expo in Lawrence on March 28  will have the opportunity to discover the many food resources we have right here in our community. The free Expo will showcase more than a dozen local farm businesses and chefs. The farmers market, the first of the spring season, will feature local fruits and vegetables, meat, cheeses, food and food products.

Visit the farmers market to talk with local farmers about the coming season. Have a locally prepared lunch, soup, chili, bread, cider, fruit and more from local farms and food businesses. Find out about local cheeses, jams and jellies, pickled peppers, desserts, and wonderful flowers. Cooking demonstrations and samplings by local chefs will be offered all afternoon.

After your visit to the market you can check out a presentation on fuel efficient cars and electric bikes.  Area residents with fuel efficient cars will also have their vehicles on display. Walking and biking is the ultimate sustainable transportation, and as a bonus you get your exercise too. At the Expo you can find out about bike trails and walking paths throughout the area.

Newly organized by the Mercer County Sustainability Coalition, a  partnership of sustainability organizations from Ewing, Hopewell, Lawrence, Princeton, Trenton and the Mercer County Office of Economic Development and Sustainability, this year’s Expo will feature hands-on workshops, displays from 90-plus local businesses and non-profits, and the “Ask your Neighbor” table where visitors can hear how homeowners and businesses completed successful energy-efficient projects. Speakers will be on hand to discuss a variety of sustainability issues ranging from local farms, school gardening & projects, to the future of transportation and recycling in Mercer County, and more.

Ask your neighbors about their experiences in green remodeling and energy efficiency projects. Get to know the inside scoop and the incentives that you can still get from New Jersey Clean Energy.

Donate your old bike to The Trenton Bike Exchange, or donate gently used medical equipment to Goodwill Home Medical Equipment, a non-profit that sells affordable medical equipment like wheelchairs, walkers and canes.

This year we are trying to “green” our Green Fair, so don’t forget to bring your travel mug for your drinks.

Stay tuned for more info soon.

New Year Begins with Swearing in of New EGT Members and Officer Elections

Swearing in new EGT Members
Mayor Bert Steinmann swears in new EGT members Mary Corrigan and Caroline Steward

The Ewing Green Team began the New Year with the swearing in of two new appointees, Mary Corrigan and Caroline Steward at the January monthly meeting.    In addition, an election of officers was held and the following individuals will serve for the 2015 term.

Co-Chair   – Michael Nordquist
Co-Chair – Joanne Mullowney
Secretary – Mary Corrigan
Membership – Dave Byers
Communications – Mark Wetherbee
IT – Joanne Mullowney

February Tree of the Month — Witchhazel

Hamamelis x intermedia  USDA Zones 5-9

witchhazelThe Ewing Environmental Commission has chosen the Witchhazel hybrid, Hamamelis x intermedia to be the February Tree of the Month. Although this small tree – or large shrub – is not a native (the crossing of Japanese Witchhazel, H. japonica, and Chinese Witchhazel, H. mollis), these two species combined produce a beautiful, fragrantly blooming plant that is outstanding in our winter landscape from late January through mid-March, depending on the weather and location.

Hamamelis x Intermedia can easily be mis-identified as a Forsythia from a distance. The flowers can be clear yellow but depending on the variety, are sometimes orange or reddish, and appear before the leaves. The flowers, 1.5” in diameter, have four ribbon-like, contorted and showy petals which are frost-proof. The fruit, which is a small, dried ½” hairy capsule, matures in the fall and opens to explosively discharge its two seeds a considerable distance. Turkeys, pheasants, cardinals and grouse enjoy Witchhazel seeds.

The bright green leaves are broadly oval and waxy, alternately arranged on zig-zag stems; they usually measure 3-4” long and the edges are toothed. The fall color is outstanding, with orange to red to copper hues. The bark is smooth grey to grayish brown

Hamamelis x intermedia will grow to 15’ to 20’ in height and will be equally broad; it is upright- spreading and will develop an irregular, rounded crown. It can thrive in either full sun or partial shade and is tolerant of poor soils although a well-drained, moist and fertile soil will allow it to thrive. Witchhazel is considered to be a maintenance-free plant, although occasional pruning may help to tidy it up. It is relatively slow-growing.

This small tree is useful in naturalized situations, near large buildings and in shrub borders. It is well suited for Ewing, USDA Hardiness Zone 6 B.

There are many cultivated varieties (CVs) of this plant available, not all of them yellow-flowering, as its characteristics have made it very popular. Most frequently seen varieties are “Arnold Promise’, ‘Jelena’ and ‘Pallida’.

Witchhazel oil extract is used medicinally as an astringent and for soothing sprains and bruises. The flexible wood was once popular for making divining rods, which were employed to detect water sources; the term “witch” is derived from the old English “wice” which meant bendable.

There are very few significant pests or diseases which affect this plant but Japanese beetles are known to enjoy the foliage. Deer do not favor Witchhazel.

Ann Farnham, LLA

Email the Ewing Environmental Commission with your suggestions for the Tree of the Month.

Visioning 2 Event Set for Monday Night – Jan 12th

Dear Ewing Neighbor,

CBP_0965The year 2013 marked the Ewing’s first Sustainable Jersey Bronze certification, a recognized milestone for NJ towns that are forward moving. In 2014, the Ewing Green Team (EGT), working in partnership with Township Administration, wanted to capitalize on that as well as other Township successes by gathering Ewing citizens to look ahead and prepare for coming challenges and to anticipate the many opportunities that await our town  by creating a multi-year vision and action plan for sustainability in Ewing!

On June 7th at the EGT’s first Community Conversation: Preserving Our Past, Transforming Our Future, we began a journey together to thoughtfully chart a course for our future.   That morning was lively and exhilarating and reminded us all why we chose to live in Ewing – wonderful neighbors all working hand in hand to envision the best future for our town.  Led by a pair of sustainability champions from Cherry Hill, we worked to Preserve Our Past, evaluating our township as it currently exists and identifying the aspects of our community that we most valued.  We then envisioned how to Transform Our Future, imagining where we would like our community to be in ten or twenty years.  All of this was to create a shared vision that would form the basis for developing goals and completing actions that move the community toward a more ideal, sustainable community.   As one participant stated:  “I truthfully wanted to skip it when I saw what a beautiful day it was, but I’m so glad that I went!  I think this will be a very beneficial process for Ewing, if it is communicated to and shared with the community.”

During the months following we refined and amplified the suggested actions believed most realistic for Ewing that best reflected citizen ideas.  Now on January 12, 2015 we are pulling the effort together.  Many of you contributed ideas and experiences during 2014.  Now on Monday we invite you back to continue the journey with us and help make the community vision a reality.  Monday night’s program will feature an overview of the highlights of our Sustainability Plan, a fusion of the collective values and aspirations that have been expressed by you all during the Visioning process.  This community wrap-up session will include also break-out sessions where you will be encouraged to further hone specific doable actions, suggest partnerships, additional sub-actions, individuals or businesses to contact, specific educational topics, etc.

Our Sustainability Plan can become a great resource for our town by allowing us to peer into the future and lend shape to the unknown. Together, through the Vision, we have been able to plan for the future of our town with imagination and thoughtful wisdom. We laid the foundation for what Ewing will look like 10 or 20 years in the future including perhaps a Ewing that will make it into NJ Monthly Magazine’s bi-annual Best Cities/Towns to Live, a front porch community where people no longer retreat to their backyards but commune more with their neighbors, where block parties for neighborhoods to come together are common, and a town that is more walkable and bikeable, and one that has more community plantings and more community gardens.  These visions and many more are addressed throughout the Vision Plan.

We invite you to journey with us to the Ewing of the future, as envisioned by you, our neighbors.

The Ewing Green Team

All Conversation documents are located at http://ewinggreenteam.org/conversation-documents.

You may reference the current draft plan at the bottom of the page at: https://ewinggreenteam.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/egt_strategic_plan.pdf.

IMPORTANT: We request that you please REPLY NOW if you are coming, to help us ensure sufficient seating and refreshments.

Date: this coming Monday January 12, 2015
Time: 6:30 – 8:30 pm.
Place: Community Room of the Ewing Senior & Community Center at 999 Lower Ferry Rd.


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