Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Betty's Tree

Red Bartlett Pear Tree planted in honor of Betty Chamberlain


Elizabeth (Betty) C. Chamberlain, of Old Lyme, is a longtime friend and trustee of the Florence Griswold Museum. To honor her years of service and devotion to the Museum, the Buildings & Grounds Committee proposed, back in January, to plant an ornamental tree in her honor. 

It was agreed that an espalier ornamental fruit tree (Red Bartlett Pear – pyrus communis) would be planted on the west side of the Rafal Landscape Center.  Everyone felt a pear tree would be a welcome addition to the museum grounds. Sheila Werthiemer, our Garden Historian and leader of the volunteer “Garden Gang,” observed that, although there is no record of an espalier tree being planted on the old estate’s grounds, they were being cultivated in America during the Lyme Art Colony days, certainly by 1910.

“Espalier” refers to the horticultural practice of training trees through pruning and grafting in order to create a formal "flat plane “ or menorah candlestick branch pattern. Espalier trees usually grow against a wall, fence, or trellis. The technique was used in Medieval Europe to produce fruit inside a fortress courtyard where open space was at a premium. It eventually was seen as a means of decorating courts and garden walls.  In the 17th Century the word espalier described the trellis  or frame on which a plant was trained to grow.

Sheila selected the pear tree from a local nursery and planted it on April 23, 2010. In addition, we also decided to plant a number of low blueberry bushes to flank the tree. Suitable signage was installed to identify the tree and why it was planted.

Please look for this tree on your next visit to the Florence Griswold Museum.  

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