WEST PITTSTON — The borough has always been known for its lush greenery.Whether it be the landscaping residents take pride in or vegetable gardens or tree-lined streets, it’s obvious why the borough is nicknamed “The Garden Village.”
One longtime resident who has always had an interest in trees and plant life is Ruth Melberger. Although not an arboriculturist by trade, the former art teacher took a Master Gardener course a dozen years ago or so at West Pittston’s Penn State Luzerne County Extension on Luzerne Avenue that only heightened her love of trees.
On the morning of July 13, Melberger conducted a tree tour of West Pittston in conjunction with the West Pittston Library. Several area residents travelled along the 90-minute tour where Melberger pointed out different varieties of trees, including a Magnolia tree rarely seen in this climate.
Melberger was involved with West Pittston’s Shade Tree Commission 15 years ago where she eventually took over for as commissioner for Helen Bubul. Vincent Cotrone, Penn State Extension Urban forester of the Northeast Region, was enlisted in guiding the tree commission.
“Vinnie (Cotrone) was really an influence in helping us work with street trees and with grants and we planted a lot of trees at that time,” Melberger said.
Along the tour, Melberger made note of other rare trees such as the Linden tree located on a street named after it. She believes the street may have been lined with Linden trees at one time, but only one exists today.
According to Melberger, the majority of trees in the borough are maple with an abundance of oak trees, as well. Other rare trees in the borough are the Atlas cedar tree, London plane tree and the Carolina poplar.
One variety of tree Melberger is particularly fond of is the copper beech. She said the copper beech, also known as the purple beech, is a vast ornamental tree that blooms green in the spring and turns a copper color as summer progresses. The Melbergers have a healthy copper beech in their backyard on Susquehanna Avenue.
Melberger noted there is one tree variety in the borough that will need to be removed and that is the ash tree. Ash trees throughout the country have been infested with the emerald ash borer beetle and communities countrywide are disposing the infected trees.
“There are three ash trees on Exeter Avenue that will eventually come down,” Melberger said. It is estimated Pennsylvania has approximately 300 million ash trees.
John Bauman, West Pittston Library director, would like to continue tour sessions in the future, adding he would like to conduct additional tree tours, alley tours, house tours and even a bird-watching tour.
Anyone interested in courses and workshops at Penn State Extension may call 570-602-0620 for further information.
Those interested in taking part in a future walking tour or hosting a walking tour are asked to contact John Bauman at the library at 570-654-9847. Sign-up sheets will be available for future project tours.
Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.