“The Canton Tree Commission is an organization that is dedicated to maintaining and preserving our old trees, as well as promoting and encouraging the replanting of new trees,” said Linda Schwamlein, chairwoman of the commission. “Also, we seek to inform our citizens of the importance of having trees in our environment.”
The seven members of the commission are appointed by the mayor and council and each member must be a resident of the city.
In addition to Schwamlein, members include Pat Stewart, Jerry Merritt, Joan Anderson, Jane Shelnutt, Frances Vaughan and Don Stafford.
The city allocates the Tree Commission $3,500 a year for the projects, maintenance and replacement of materials, Schwamlein said. Other support comes from the profits made from an Arbor Day tree sale as well as any donations that are given.
Additional funding will allow the commission to make more improvements throughout the city, she said.
“Promoting the planting of new trees and beautifying certain areas within our city is our purpose. We also participate in several projects throughout the year,” Schwamlein said.
Arbor Day is celebrated on the third Friday in February of each year and this year the city of Canton will give away free seedlings from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Cannon Park at the gazebo in Historic Downtown Canton. The seedlings that will be given away include red maple, golden rain tree, white dogwood, and bald cypress.
A large plant sale will also be held Friday at Cannon Park. Plants and shrubs from Buck Jones Nursery are sold in addition to the seedlings that are given away free.
In addition to the free seedlings, highway exit beautification is also a project that is supported by the local commission.
“We have landscaped many entrances to the city of Canton,” Schwamlein said. “In some of our parks, we have planted trees including the new Christmas tree in Cannon Park.”
Some prior projects include using recycle monies to beautify Exits 16 and 20 and enhancing the barren bank area near the library at Exit 19.
Other areas have been improved, including Longview Drive near Town Creek at Marietta Highway where weeping willow trees were planted.
Another project centers around memorial trees, which for a donation of $100 a resident can have a tree planted in the city limits. A brass-plated, inscribed leaf is mounted on the carved, wooden tree that is in the lobby at City Hall.
The Yard of the Month contest is also sponsored by the Tree Commission.
“We encourage beautification by honoring citizens whose yards are selected for the Yard of the Month during the months of March to December,’ Stewart said. “Yards are selected and photographs are taken by the Cherokee Tribune. A letter of recognition from the Tree Commission is awarded to the recipient.”
The commission has installed Tree City signs at each entrance of the city, recognizing the 20 years of affiliation with the national Tree City organization.
The Tree Commission works closely with the Street Department to maintain the established areas as well as the newly planted areas.
While beautification is a part of the commission’s mission, preserving the urban forest for the city is important also.
Other projects include:
* The large cypress tree on Main Street was damaged when it was small and Merritt rescued the tree and transplanted it so that it has grown to over 30 feet tall and welcomes all who cross the railroad tracks and enter the downtown area of Canton on Highway 20.
* At Boling Park, named for a former mayor, Cecil Boling, the Tree Commission planted a number of sycamore , cherry, and gingko trees that enhance this park, The entrance to Boling Park is flanked by a large deodora cedar tree as well as rosemary, dianthus, day lilies and miscanthus grass. The planter was designed and built by David Buchanan. The city of Canton paid for the entrance.
* Exit 16 of Interstate 575 was beautified using recycle money and the large area includes plantings of crepe myrtle, hollies, nandina, maple trees, river birch trees, magnolia trees, rain trees, pampas grass, forsythia plants, burning bush and butterfly bushes, as well as limelight hydrangeas. The area was landscaped by Buchanan. Jackie Butram planted two of the most recent islands within the exit.
* At exit 20 near Wal-Mart the island was designed by Melissa Castell. It includes dwarf crepe myrtle, rosemary, lorepedlum, and cana lilies.
* Near the library at Exit 19, Butram planned and designed hydrangeas, hollies, hemlocks, and mophead cedars to welcome visitors and citizens to the city.
On Highway 140 near the underpass of I-575, a bank of burning bush plants gives a splash of red color in the fall.
In earlier years, plantings of trees have been made at Brown Park, Shipp Street and Oakside Drive.
The newest planting is an island on Marietta Highway in South Canton near Moore Buick Co. that is planted with harbor belle nandinas and bordered with sweet flag grass.