Manayunk community plants new trees at Dobson Elementary

Over the last year, a whole classroom’s worth of young trees have been planted along the streets around the James Dobson Elementary School in Manayunk.

The Roxborough-Manayunk-Wissahickon Tree Tenders have so far put in 25 trees on Umbria and Hermitage streets, and in the school’s side yards, said group member Marlene Schleifer. On Saturday, eight members of the group were joined by members of the Dobson school community to put in the latest group of trees, a row of five trees on the Umbria side. They also added fresh mulch to the other trees.

“The trees should be all set for the winter, and the kids and teachers will pick up the watering in the spring,” Schleifer said.

The species, the Columnar Sargent Cherry, was chosen because it tends to grow taller and narrower than a traditional cherry tree, making the maturing trees less likely to be sideswiped by the cars, trucks and buses that use narrow Umbria Street, Schleifer said. On the surrounding streets, cherry trees with a more typical rounded shape were put in, she said.

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As the trees grow, they’ll return some of the greenery the neighborhood had in decades past, when the blocks around the school had a number of trees and flowering bushes, most notably at the former Consolo Bakery property at Hermitage and Smick streets.

Schleifer credited Dobson’s principal, Patty Cruice, and dean of students Kim Fullam, for supporting the tree-planting efforts over the last year, including follow-up care after the plantings. And she gave special credit to Nathan Altus, a neighborhood teenager, for his help keeping the trees healthy.

“My job would have been a lot harder without him, and it’s clear that the trees have benefitted from the attention they received during the weeks when school was not in session,” she said.

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