December 15, 2019

Offspring of Historic Elm Planted on Old Saybrook Town Green

On July 4, 1876, a committee of Old Saybrook citizens arranged for the planting of 56 American Elms to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence 100 years before. Two hundred thirty-five years after the signing (give or take a couple of days) a group from the Old Saybrook Garden Club, plus Selectman Bill Peace, gathered on the Town Green to plant a seedling of one of those “Centennial Trees.”

Only five of the orignial 56 elms have survived hurricanes, ice storms, development, and the dreaded Dutch elm disease. One of the survivors is on Main Street near Boston Post Road, where it drops its seeds into the garden club’s Constitution Garden, in front of Saybrook Country Barn. Garden-club member, Judy Grover, has dug and potted up several of the successful seedlings in recent years and gave one over to the care of Barbara Maynard, another garden club member and a former First Selectman. This little elm, now about three feet tall, was deemed ready for transplanting and a spot was arranged on the Town Green.

Thus with Bill Peace wielding the shovel, Barbara Maynard steadying the tree, and half a dozen members of the Old Saybrook Garden Club looking on, this handsome little sapling was planted, mulched, and watered in. “It remains to be seen whether the ‘mother tree’ passed on its resistance to Dutch elm disease,” noted Judy Grover, “and the strength to stand up to hurricanes.” But maybe, just maybe another stately elm will one day grace Old Saybrook.

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