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Sprucing up the elms

Day of Service aims to make burial site more beautiful, healthy via tree pruning

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International Society of Arboriculture Prairie chapter director Matt Vinet, Elmwood Cemetery manager Bob Watling, and Friends of Elmwood Cemetery executive director Robert Filuk, are shown with a tree marked to be removed because it is infected with Dutch elm disease.

PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON Enlarge Image

International Society of Arboriculture Prairie chapter director Matt Vinet, Elmwood Cemetery manager Bob Watling, and Friends of Elmwood Cemetery executive director Robert Filuk, are shown with a tree marked to be removed because it is infected with Dutch elm disease. Photo Store

Elmwood Cemetery is getting set for another round of beautification.

The second International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Prairie chapter’s Day of Service is set to help the cemetery’s aesthetics by pruning as many of its elms as possible on Sept. 28. The event, which coincides with the end of National Forest Week, will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the cemetery at 88 Hespeler Ave.

Prairie chapter director Matt Vinet, an Elmwood resident, said he’d noticed the cemetery’s trees becoming unhealthy, and took inspiration from the ISA’s Pennsylvania-Delaware chapter, which helps to maintain a veteran’s cemetery.

"People walk through here and they see the red dots on the trees (which means they are infected with Dutch elm disease). That’s what we’re trying to slow down," Vinet said. "We want to build awareness for what’s going on at the cemetery, and get people in the neighbourhood to realize what’s in their midst."

Friends of Elmwood Cemetery Inc. executive director Robert Filuk, a St. James resident, said he’s received very positive feedback from visitors since inaugural Day of Service last fall.

"It made the cemetery look that much more beautiful," Filuk said. "(Visitors) are comfortable that their loved ones are being looked after. We’ve heard nothing but compliments."

Vinet said employees from 10 different companies have committed to helping out on the day of the event. Last year, the volunteers were able to prune 50 trees, and with a boost in manpower this year, he hopes to accomplish more.

"To clean a tree properly, to deadwood one of those monsters that’s never been pruned, takes awhile. If you look at the ground after, it looks like a bomb went off," Vinet said. "We’re going through the cemetery geographically, so the trees we can reach from the road are done with aerial trucks, and the trees that we can’t reach on the road are done by climbers."

The roster of approximately 25 professional climbers includes Jesse Antonation, the two-time Canadian tree-climbing champion. In addition to getting to see the pro pruners in action, there will be a tree-pruning workshop at 11 a.m., as well as other events and information. To register for the workshop, run by Trees Winnipeg, call 204-832-7188.

With approximately 550 elms on its 38-acre site, there’s no way each and every tree can be pruned in a single day. Filuk said the organization is planning to take donations to help fund maintenance of the other trees.

For more information on the cemetery, visit www.historicelmwoodcemetery.ca.

For more information on Trees Winnipeg, visit www.savetheelms.mb.ca.

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