West Pittston walking tour provides participants with education about trees

By Tony Callaio - For Sunday Dispatch
West Pittston resident, Ruth Melberger, far left, points to a tree along the 90-minute walking tour of West Pittston’s trees. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Ruth Melberger points to a healthy Magnolia tree in West Pittston that just bloomed. Magnolia trees in northeast Pennsylvania are a rare find. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
According to Ruth Melberger, this large Linden tree may be the last one that exists in West Pittston. The street where the tree sits was named after the tree. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
This large copper beech tree is located in the Melberger’s backyard on Susquehanna Ave. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch - - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Ruth Melberger, left, a aelf-taught tree expert, conducted a tree tour walk along the streets in West Pittston on June 13 in conjunction with the West Pittston Library. Call the library for further future street tours at 570-654-9847. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch - - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

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.

West Pittston resident, Ruth Melberger, far left, points to a tree along the 90-minute walking tour of West Pittston’s trees. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_Trees1-1.jpgWest Pittston resident, Ruth Melberger, far left, points to a tree along the 90-minute walking tour of West Pittston’s trees. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Ruth Melberger points to a healthy Magnolia tree in West Pittston that just bloomed. Magnolia trees in northeast Pennsylvania are a rare find. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_Trees2-1.jpgRuth Melberger points to a healthy Magnolia tree in West Pittston that just bloomed. Magnolia trees in northeast Pennsylvania are a rare find. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

According to Ruth Melberger, this large Linden tree may be the last one that exists in West Pittston. The street where the tree sits was named after the tree. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_Trees3-1.jpgAccording to Ruth Melberger, this large Linden tree may be the last one that exists in West Pittston. The street where the tree sits was named after the tree. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

This large copper beech tree is located in the Melberger’s backyard on Susquehanna Ave. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_Trees4-1.jpgThis large copper beech tree is located in the Melberger’s backyard on Susquehanna Ave. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Ruth Melberger, left, a aelf-taught tree expert, conducted a tree tour walk along the streets in West Pittston on June 13 in conjunction with the West Pittston Library. Call the library for further future street tours at 570-654-9847. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_Trees5-1.jpgRuth Melberger, left, a aelf-taught tree expert, conducted a tree tour walk along the streets in West Pittston on June 13 in conjunction with the West Pittston Library. Call the library for further future street tours at 570-654-9847. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Walking tour provides participants with education

By Tony Callaio

For Sunday Dispatch

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.