Trees in the Glebe: envisioning a green canopy

Trees in the Glebe L Oppenheimer
Lawrence Oppenheimer stands beside his months-old maple on Third Avenue on November 19, just before the big snow. The new tree replaces an ash that succumbed to disease. The City of Ottawa does not provide stump removal to a depth that permits same-site replanting, but no other location was possible due to water and gas infrastructure, so Lawrence covered this cost.
Photo: Kieran Humphries


by Jennifer Humphries

Trees in the Glebe Rob Smith
Across the street from Lawrence, Rob Smith stands beside his 80-year-old ash that he hopes will live many years yet. City of Ottawa Forestry has inoculated the tree against the emerald ash borer but its survival isn’t assured.
Photo: Kieran Humphries
Autumn View Percy
Percy Street in November: a canopy of fall colours
Photo: lyn Armstrong

There is growing awareness in the community and across the country of the importance of the urban forest, and an increasing knowledge base around what makes for a truly green, healthy and beautiful living space. Many cities and towns aspire to develop or expand their green canopy.

In the Glebe we have seen major setbacks suffered by our community’s tree population in recent years. Numerous trees have been lost due to the effects of the emerald ash borer and Dutch elm disease. Others have fallen victim to road reconstruction and new residential development and infill. Planting has not kept pace with loss, and even where trees are replaced, new young trees do not yield the benefits of their mature predecessors for years, so “one-for-one” may not truly replace.

I am a long-time resident of the Glebe and newly minted member of the Environment Committee, which has a mandate to preserve, enhance and advocate for our local environment, both built and natural, including trees. It will be my pleasure to write a series of Glebe Report articles about trees in the Glebe. In future articles, I look forward to offering tree suggestions and informing you about what neighbours are doing, what’s happening in other communities in Canada and maybe even abroad. I’m also planning to provide tips, research and suggestions on where you might look to get the information or practical help you need.

Full disclosure – I’m not an expert, just someone who is passionate about trees. But I aim to get to the experts and just plain good gardeners, and gather their thoughts and ideas for you.

I also ask you to please send me information, ideas, photos and suggestions for photo ops.

As I write, the first big blizzard of the season is blanketing our gardens and frosting our tree limbs white. The time to plant new trees is over until spring. I’ll be seeking tips from keen arborists for an upcoming piece.

I leave you with my seven reasons to plant and preserve trees in your yard, in our parks and on our streets. Your views and additions are welcome.

  1. Trees are beautiful, pure and simple. There’s nothing as inspiring as an autumn red maple or an oak silhouetted against a dusk sky. Birches, poplars and jack pines are brilliant too; Tom Thomson thought so.
  2. Trees make us comfortable. They cool us in the summer and protect us in the winter. They absorb water and melting snow, keeping our lawns and homes safe from flooding.
  3. Trees are valuable. They make our air breathable. They give us food. They shelter and feed wildlife. They make travellers want to visit us. They add to the value of our homes.
  4. Trees build social connections. We’ve learned that places that treasure their trees are safer and more peaceful. Trees calm us, it seems, and bring us together.
  5. Trees give us exercise when we rake and mulch their leaves each fall. They also get our kids out to play, and maybe help a bit.
  6. Trees connect our past, present and future. They share and save our history. They accompany our current days. If treated well, they outlive us and carry some of our being into the lives of others.
  7. Trees are diverse, just like us. They come in different sizes, shapes and colours. Some are hardier than others but they all have interesting characteristics. They seem to represent us, our multifaceted, multicultural society.

Jennifer Humphries is a member of the Glebe Community Association’s Environment Committee. The committee, in cooperation with Ecology Ottawa, is promoting the planting of 150 or more new trees in the neighbourhood in 2017. Write to Jennifer at

Share this