By Public Affairs Staff
NEWPORT, R.I. - Nurtured by the temperate climate and the misty ocean breezes, trees from places as diverse as Africa, Russia, Europe and Japan are flourishing on Salve Regina University campus.
The many varieties on campus range from Fernleaf Beech to Japanese Maple to Atlas Cedar, a tree that originates in Northern Africa. The Maidenhair Tree hails from China, while the Horse Chestnut originated on the Balkan Peninsula. Salve works diligently to maintain and sustain the health of these natural wonders and has hired a staff of experts, including renowned arborists and landscape designers, who are responsible for the ongoing care of Salve's trees.
Appalachian State University biology professor John Bond has documented about two dozen varieties of trees on the Salve Regina campus and established an ID tag program as part of the university's special walking tour to view historic buildings and grounds. Bond's comprehensive study examines the characteristics and traces the histories of dozens of unique and exotic trees on Salve's campus.
The university's full-time in-house tree doctor Leonard Mercier, a Rhode Island-licensed arborist who has been caring for trees for 22 years, has developed a program for fertilizing, trimming and planting that he says will increase the life expectancies of these century-old trees by between 20 to 50 years. Periodic pruning and trimming is undertaken with the utmost care and concern for the historical, agricultural, topographical and aesthetic value and ambiance of these trees. The university's policy is to never disturb or trim any tree unless it is consults with botanists, horticulturists and other experts to ensure the sustained health of all existing trees.
The university also has on its payroll as a consultant Lucinda Brockway, principal and owner of Past Designs, a landscape preservation and design firm in Kennebunk, Maine. Brockway advises the university on maintaining its historic landscape.
The university's ongoing efforts to preserve its extraordinary environment have not gone unnoticed. In 1997, The Preservation Society of Newport County, the premier regional agency dedicated to heritage conservation which has earned national and international reputation for its professional expertise, presented the university with its highest accolade - the Antiquarian Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Historic Preservation.
"We value this land surrounding our campus, and we feel a strong sense of responsibility to preserve it for future generations of students, members of the community and visitors to Newport," said Salve Regina President M. Therese Antone, RSM. "We want to preserve these natural resources out of respect for the fact that those trees were, in fact, here long before Salve Regina received its charter from the state of Rhode Island in 1934. We are also more than aware that Newport's unique social and literary history, like its present topography, is rooted to the wide variety of trees that make their home here."