By Brian McCarthy

The Memorial Grove is located within Green Hill Park in the city of Worcester. Green Hill park is a wonderful 500-acre site replete with baseball, football, handball, basketball, a golf course, picnic sites, a farm and many wooded hiking trails.

The Grove is a living memorial to the hundreds of Worcester citizens who died pursuing liberty during World War 1. It was dedicated in 1928 by the American Legion and the City of Worcester. Attached to each tree was a placard bearing the name of the valiant citizen/soldier who died in hopes of a safer world.

Over the ensuing decades the Grove fell into disrepair and many trees died. Consequently some five years ago the Green Hill Park Coalition decided to restore the grove to its former glory. After all, the veterans deserved to be honored and remembered. Acres of brush needed to be cleared and almost two hundred replacement trees needed to be purchased, planted and cared for. For the Coalition this was a daunting task and was frankly a little overwhelming.

Fortunately for us Ruth Seward and Derek Lirange of the Worcester Tree Initiative, a department of New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill, stepped forward with an offer of assistance. Having planted some 30,000 trees throughout Worcester County they had the purchasing power and the network, both voluntary and governmental, to assist us in this most worthy endeavor. With their help we planted almost two hundred trees and just as importantly watered them every week, sometimes twice a week throughout the ensuing summers and falls. They also assisted in the tree staking and protection of the trees from the large deer herd in Green Hill Park.

The ever increasing level of activity in the Grove attracted Professor Steven Van Dessel of WPI who designed a new Memorial that was subsequently presented to the City of Worcester. The City Manager, Edward Augustus, stepped to the plate and agreed to finance the total rebuild of the Grove (less the trees) and construction ensued. We hope for a spring 2020 completion.

Lastly, while caring for the Grove I came to realize that my knowledge of how to nurture a tree was sorely lacking. Once again, it was the WTI and New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill to the rescue. They began offering an in-depth tree steward course that taught me how to care for the Grove going forward. The course offering consisted of extensive class time as well as hands-on experience in tending for street trees. The course was beautifully structured and has allowed me to properly prune the Grove as well as my yard, friends’ yards, Worcester street trees and other park trees.

I sincerely believe that this project would never have been completed were it not for the assistance, guidance and advice of Ruth Seward, Derek Lirange, the WTI and New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill. I owe them my never-ending gratitude as they have indeed honored the memories of these citizens.

Brian McCarthy is a volunteer tree steward.