Exploring Scarsdale's Tree Canopy
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Category: The Goods
There’s a reason Scarsdale wins the Tree City award every year and why we’re called a Village in a Park. That’s because the Village treasures, manages and cares for our tree canopy. That was evident on Sunday October 2, when Cynthia Roberts, a board member of the Friends of Scarsdale Parks, offered two “tree” tours of Chase Park in Scarsdale Village.
Despite threatening weather, residents came out to learn about our trees and ask questions about their own. Roberts was knowledgeable about tree identification, tree care and a wonderful proponent for preserving green space in the Village.
After discussing the towering oaks and tulip trees, she showed off the native dogwoods and evergreens and explained the environmental interplay between trees, moss, birds and insects.
Here are a few questions that were posed on the tour – and answers from Cynthia.
What benefits do trees bring to the environment?
Our gorgeous trees explain why Scarsdale is known as “a Village in a Park.” Trees produce the oxygen we breath, eliminate pollutants from the air, slow and absorb rainwater preventing floods, and regulate the temperature. Trees also raise property values, save heating and cooling energy, and improve human mental and physical health. While they are producing oxygen, trees take in and store climate-changing carbon dioxide. Planting trees is one thing we can do today to help slow climate change.
Trees play an essential role in our local ecosystem by harnessing the sun’s energy and creating food by a process called photosynthesis. Remember that only plants can produce food. And leaves are the basis for all food chains. For example, the white oak tree (Quercus alba in botanical nomenclature) co-evolved in this region with the other plants, insects and animals, and is therefore considered a “native” tree here. The White oak is reported to support more native insects than any other species of tree in the Northeast. Why is supporting these insects important? We wouldn’t have many songbirds without thousands of soft caterpillars that comprise the “baby-food” that Mom and Dad songbird need to feed a nest of chicks in spring. Chase Park’s collection of towering white oaks furnishes rich wildlife habitat not only via their leaves that feed insects, but also by providing nesting sites and producing acorns, which feed myriad mammals and birds.
Why do leaves turn colors in the fall?
The colors we see in leaves come from pigments, natural materials produced by leaves. When we see green leaves, this is due to the green pigment chlorophyll. This is the most important pigment because it enables the tree to use sunlight, water and carbon dioxide (via photosynthesis) to produce oxygen and food for the tree in the form of carbohydrates. Carotenoids are another type of pigment, which can be yellow, orange, or brown. You may be familiar with them because they are found in carrots. In the fall when the days get shorter and the temperature cools, leaves stop producing chlorophyll, and the yellows, oranges and browns of the carotenoids are unmasked. They were there all along but were hidden by the chlorophyll. Some tree species produce an additional set of pigments in the fall, called anthocyanins. These allow us to see pink, red, and purple leaves. The amount of this type of pigment varies with the weather each year. We will see the most pinks, reds and purples during falls following wet springs, and when fall weather gives us sunny days and cold, but not freezing nights.
Why do people put mulch around their trees’ trunks?
The primary reason to put mulch (shredded bark, wood chips, or leaves) under your trees is to promote healthy tree growth. Mulching helps by:
1. keeping the mowers and weed-wackers away from your tree’s trunk,
2. retaining moisture in the soil during the summer,
3. reducing weed growth under your tree, and
4. improving the quality of the soil as the mulch decomposes.
How much mulch should I put around my tree?
Please do not allow anyone to pile mulch up against your tree’s trunk. A practice known as “volcano mulching”, this promotes bark decay and can promote unhealthy root growth. The best practice is to keep mulch 2 inches away from the trunk. In addition, the recommended depth of mulch under trees is 2-3 inches. For a small young tree, the mulch layer can be spread on the ground starting from 2 inches away from the trunk and extending out to the tree’s drip line. The drip line is the outer circle where rain would drip off the leaves of your tree onto the ground. On a large tree, however, mulching out to the drip line would encompass an enormous area. Some homeowners might not want to mulch the entire area because much of your yard would be covered in brown mulch. In that case, simply apply mulch starting 2 inches from the trunk and extending out as far as you like, but at minimum several feet from the trunk to keep the mowers away and to provide the other benefits of mulch.
Another solution is to connect your mulched trees by creating planting beds around them. I have replaced most of my front lawn with planting beds that encompass trees, shrubs and native perennial flowers. This keeps the mowers away from my trees and allows me to mulch the entire bed while maintaining an attractive front yard.
What are some of your favorite native trees, which might be a good choice for a Scarsdale yard?
Below are a few of my favorite small to medium-sized trees that are native to this region. The first three sport spectacular spring blooms and produce fruit that feeds wildlife.
1. American dogwood (Cornus florida):
Large white flowers, red berries, and crimson fall color
2. Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis):
Heart-shaped leaves, pink-purple blooms and gold fall color
3. Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea):
Multi-stemmed often, a cloud of early spring white blooms followed by dark blue fruits and orange fall color.
4. American holly (Ilex opaca):
This is an evergreen that produces shiny green spine-tipped leaves and red berries. These trees provide year-round privacy screening. Note that only the female American holly produces berries, so consult your nursery before purchasing.
When is the best time to prune your trees?
The timing of pruning depends on your purpose in pruning. Experts say that pruning to remove dead wood or a few small branches can be done in any season, but suggest avoiding fall pruning due to the seasonally enhanced presence of fungal spores. Otherwise, it is best to research your species of tree for the optimal pruning time or ask a professional arborist. Most private arborists will inspect the condition of your tree without charge. Be sure that the arborist is certified by the International Society of Arboriculture or another recognized program and is insured.
Westchester County provides a comprehensive website to empower Westchester residents to grow more plants. There is an extensive section on Trees, which includes guidance on how to select a tree species for your yard, pick out a tree at a nursery, and plant, mulch, and prune the tree. This website was created thanks to over 100 Westchester residents who volunteered their expertise and time.
If you have questions about your trees, email us at email@example.com.
Scarsdale Troop 4 and Cub Scout Pack 440 Recruit New Members
- Written by Mayra Kirkendall Rodriguez
- Category: The Goods
Over 150 students, parents and scouts attended the Scarsdale Troop 4 and Cub Scout Pack 440 Recruiting Event on Sunday, September 18th. Scouts, ranging from the 6th to the 11th grade, ran stations demonstrating how to cook quesadillas outdoors and cycling to power a blender to make delicious and healthy smoothies. The new girls-linked troop held an egg drop experiment to teach younger participants about gravity and engineering. Scouts also helped elementary aged students have a car race with wooden cars, a race known in the scouting world as the Pinewood Derby; scouts assisted students to build small sailboats that they then raced in a regatta. Scouts and adult volunteers also taught students how to light a fire, tie knots, and of course, how to make s’mores. Several elementary and middle school students signed-up on the spot to join Troop 4 and Cub Scout Pack 440; others are joining this week.
Troop 4 will be helping run a station about disabilities awareness at the upcoming Thunderbird Games on October 15th. This annual event is the largest Cub Scout gathering in the Northeast and features over 40 activity stations run by area Scout troops to teach younger Cub Scouts about fitness, outdoor skills and more. Perennial favorites have included the haunted house, climbing course and chariot races (Cubs are the passengers and Scouts pull the chariots and all appear to have a great deal of fun). Troop 4 Scarsdale will also spend multiple weekends outdoors this fall for tent and cabin camping as well as participate in multiple hikes of increasing distance in pursuit of the Hiking Merit Badge.
The scouts will start meeting on a weekly basis on Sundays starting October 2nd. At those meetings, they talk about civics, citizenship, leadership, and diversity, equity and inclusion; they work on Scout skills such as first aid, fitness and outdoor skills and they conclude with a weekly game designed by the scouts.
The next joint Troop 4 and Cub Scout Pack 440 recruiting event is the Pumpkin Carving on October 23rd at 4pm at the Weinberg Nature Center. Bring Your Own Pumpkin, carving tools and markers!
Any sixth to eleventh graders interested in joining Scarsdale’s Troop 4 may contact Scoutmaster Ted Mazza at firstname.lastname@example.org. For the girls-linked Troop, please contact Mayra Kirkendall-Rodríguez, ScarsdaleMayra@Yahoo.com Please visit Troop 4’s website and Facebook page. For Cub Scout Pack 440, please contact Cubmaster Brian Rosenthal, email@example.com; you may visit Cub Scout Pack 44 at https://scarsdalecubs.wixsite.com/pack440.
Plan Ahead for Winter Travel
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Category: The Goods
This article was submitted by Grace Shpiz from The Devoted Traveler in Larchmont.
The start of the school year is the time to think ahead to family travel and start planning.
This summer as the world eased Covid-19 entry requirements, travel returned in full force and the demand was overwhelming. Too many travelers waited to make summer plans to popular places. By the time they fully committed, people found that destinations such as Italy’s Amalfi Coast were completely sold out. Our advice is to plan now for the usual “favorites” as well as places that will be most popular like those that have been hard to access due to Covid until recently. Some ideas are Japan, Patagonia, Australia/New Zealand, and Southeast Asia.
For those of you who have not planned your December Break trip and want a beach vacation, there is already limited availability. Rates are high and most beach resorts also have minimum night stay requirements. If you have some flexibility, earlier is better, as travel starting December 26 is the busiest and most expensive.
For skiers this winter, many mountains are limiting lift ticket sales so book now to avoid disappointment. You may also consider skiing in Europe this season - lift tickets are a fraction of the cost, and you can combine adventure, culture, and great food in one trip!
If you can, travel during “off peak” months such as May and November. Destinations are less crowded, and you will save. During these times rates are reasonable and there is usually good availability, not to mention a better chance of hotel upgrades.
Planning ahead is key, it allows you to have choices. Our goal is to provide clients with a seamless planning process and a stress-free travel experience. Our definition of “luxury” is a worry-free trip where you show up, and everything else is taken care of for you.
Co-founder/Luxury Travel Advisor
The Devoted Traveler, a Travel Consultancy based in Larchmont, NY
Saving Our Democracy, One Vote at a Time
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Category: The Goods
The right to vote in free and fair elections is now in jeopardy, putting our democracy at risk. That’s what Lauren Miller , Counsel, Brennan Center's Democracy Program documented at a meeting of the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale in the dining tent in Scarsdale Village on Monday September 19, 2022.
Sadly, a legacy of the Trump administration, are challenges to local and state election laws and threats to election workers that resulted in disenfranchised voters, limits on voting rights, restrictive voter legislation and shortages of election workers who are fearful of reprisal.
In her talk, “The January 6 Hearings and the Big Lie’s Ongoing Threats to our Democracy,” Miller showed how false claims about the 2020 election have prompted the passage of anti-voter laws and mistrust in the electoral process.
According to Miller, ““The Big Lie” is the simple idea that the 2021 election was taken from President Trump by President Biden. That relies on hundreds of false claims of voter fraud…. all of those claims were proven to be false. …There were over 60 lawsuits. But it was in fact one of the most secure elections I American history.”
Miller continued, “The country has a decentralized system for administering elections. Each county makes their own rules. Each state has their own policy for counting votes. Therefore there are many, many opportunities to make claims. If we had one unified system there would not be a basis for these claims.”
Taking advantage of the decentralized process, in 2021 18 states passed 34 restrictive voter laws, the most ever in history and this movement continues in 2022 when 142 bills have already been introduced. She said there has been a “Rise in election interference or sabotage legislation… The laws make it easier to replace local election officials if they don’t like how it’s going.”
The Brennan Center has documented the link between the restrictive voting bills and those who promulgated the Big Lie. The Brennan Center has analyzed every single lawsuit and found that corresponding laws were introduced. She said, “We are facing a serious problem. These are not coincidental…. There are even bills to eliminate mail in ballots. … Most troubling is that these laws are disenfranchising voters of color.”
She also discussed the threats to local voting officials, saying, “We are seeing that vigilantes are attacking elected officials for doing their jobs and giving death threats to families, spouses and children.”
-One in six election officials have experienced these threats – and they are in association with the big lie.
-One in five election officials are preparing to resign before the 2024 election.
-One in three election officials knows someone who has left already.
What can we do? Miller advised the group to:
-Continue to mobilize
-Organize in your community
-Becoming a poll worker
In addition, the Brennan Center is asking Congress to strengthen our democratic guard rules. Miller was heartened by the fact that the John Lewis Voting Rights Act almost passed Congress this year. The act would have strengthened voting laws, offered protection for voting officials and protect the right to vote. About the bill she said, “It is not a matter of if – it is a matter of when.”
The bill would restore the law to full strength, in part by once again requiring states with histories of voter discrimination to receive approval from the Department of Justice or a federal court before enacting voting changes.
Furthermore, Miller said, “ The January 6 hearings are doing so much to bring these issues to light and organizations like the LWVS allows us to get the message out.”
The event was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale, a volunteer nonpartisan political organization which promotes political responsibility through informed and active participation of citizens in government. The League is nonpartisan in that it does not support or oppose any candidate for public office; it is political in that it takes positions on selected governmental issues after serious member study and consensus. Learn more here.
(Pictured at top: Lauren Miller of the Brennan Center addressed the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale.)
An Evening of Jazz in the Dining Tent
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Category: The Goods
Commuters were greeted with the music of Harold Arlen, Herbie Hancock and Traffic on Wednesday evening September 7, when the Hoff Barthelson Jazz Ensemble, directed by Ed Palermo, gave a free concert in the dining tent.
A small crowd was gathered inside the tent and, as the evening wore on, more assembled on the streets, swaying to the music and enjoying dinner and ice cream as they hummed along to familiar tunes. Pleasant weather brought out kids in strollers, barking dogs and seniors, all thrilled to experience a free night of top entertainment in the Village.
The concert included melodic tunes such as Let’s Fall in Love, Paper Moon, Almost Like Being in Love, Autumn Leaves, Canteloupe Island, How High the Moon and more.
The band included talented local musicians, including Village Trustee Jonathan Lewis on the trumpet.
Here’s the lineup:
Ed Palermo, Director
Beddy LoBalbo - Keyboard & Vocals
Jonathan Siegel - Drums
Roger Miller - Electric Guitar
Jason Kofman - Bass Guitar
Corey Booth - Saxophone & Clarinet
Andrew Chun - Saxophone
Jonathan Lewis – Trumpet
A second concert will be held at 6 pm on Friday September 8 in the Dining Tent. The HB Brass Quintet featuring faculty members Terry Szor, trumpet; Steve Sherts, horn; and Jonathan Greenberg, bass trombone, will perform hits from the Great American Songbook and beyond with guest artists Charlie Porter, trumpet and Matt Melore, trombone.