By Ruth Seward

Worcester Tree Initiative has been out in the streets of Worcester structurally pruning young public trees to prevent future tree failure and to improve the structure of each tree. For us, getting out in the streets, every other weekend in the dead of winter, serves a bigger purpose for the community – keeping street trees in good form so they can provide benefits to everyone as they grow. Last week, we pruned for a different purpose, in a different community. We ventured to Harvard, Mass., to improve the health of a healing garden that provides support for cancer patients and their families.

The Virginia Thurston Healing Garden Cancer Support Center is a beautiful center tucked in the woods in Harvard. The mission of this program is to provide support for families dealing with cancer in a safe serene space where nature abounds. Members of this center reached out to WTI for a little help pruning trees in the gardens surrounding their building. Seeing the beauty of this space and understanding the important mission this center provides, made it is easy to feel compelled to work on these trees!  

WTI was first created with a singular mission of getting trees and tree education out into the community in and around Worcester who were impacted by the Asian Longhorned Beetle. As that infestation subsides, we have begun to look at working in other communities in Massachusetts. We want our outreach efforts to better reflect the reach of Tower Hill Botanic Garden. By providing Master Tree Stewards Classes at Tower Hill, we train individuals from a variety of communities. Our hope is that they will eventually take their skills to their own towns and improve the green spaces there. Working on the Virginia Thurston Healing Garden is a great step towards this goal of broadening our reach and getting involved with active community members. Let us know if there are such spaces in your area that could use some Master Stewardship.  

Ruth Seward is executive director of the Worcester Tree Initiative, a program of Tower Hill Botanic Garden.