In the Matter of Champion Newport Trees

Laurence Cutler, Senator Teresa Paiva Weed and Judy Cutler

Image courtesy Allan Milora


Newport is currently lamenting the loss of its Copper anf Weeping Beech Trees, particularly the magnificent specimens  in front of the Redwood Library and the Newport Art Museum on Bellevue Avenue.


But The Frederick Law Olmsted Arboretum, recently honored by the Newport Tree Society, has launched  a new initiative,  administered by the National Museum of American Illustration (NMAI).


The Helen Walker Raleigh Champion Tree Program, administered by the Rhode Island Tree Council, recently evaluated the trees on the grounds of the NMAI and Olmsted Park and identified four as “State Champion Trees,” the oldest and/or largest of their respective species. Only in Newport!


Dr. Brian Maynard, Professor of Horticulture at URI’s Department of Plant Science, presents Judy and Laurence Cutler with their official Arboretum Certification from ArbNet and the Moreton Register of Arboreta. Image courtesy Allan Millora.

Having four “State Champion Trees” at one location is, in itself remarkable, and the particular four trees selected are unprecedented for two reasons: First, many other Rhode Island Champion Trees are on private land and unavailable to the public, while these particular Champions are on land which welcomes public visits; second, three of the selected trees were planted in 1884 by America’s first and most preeminent landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, for whom our Olmsted Park & Arboretum are named. Mr. Olmsted is best know for his design  and development of New York city's Central Park.

Maggie Bulmer, of Middletown, RI, tosses a handful of dirt onto the newly planted redwood, dedicated to Landscape Architect Frederick Law Olmsted, for whom the NMAI’s Park & Arboretum is named.

Image courtesy NMAI


Olmsted personally planted the Champion Trees on these grounds, as well as many of the other trees in the vicinity. He planted in groupings, with many redundant selections. Periodically, the lesser, weaker trees were culled, which ultimately left the best of each species for today. This past January the grounds of the NMAI were certified as a Level 1 Arboretum by the international arboretum certification organization, ArbNet, becoming the fourth professionally accredited arboretum in Newport.  Judy and Laurence Cutler, creators of the NMAI, and administrators of the Olmsted Arboretum, were on hand, as backhoes tilled the ground for the new specimen trees.  State representative  Teresa Paiva Weed was there for the planting and ceremony.




To learn more about the fred


The Largess Forestry crew poses with Judy Cutler. Image courtesy Allan Millora.


Pete Largess, of Largess Forestry, operates a tree spade to dig a hole while demonstrating modern tree planting techniques. Image courtesy NMAI.



Steve Pilz, Jim Rugh, and Matthew “Twig” Largess look on as Pete Largess operates a tree spade truck, maneuvering a red maple into position over the hole where it will be planted. Image courtesy NMAI


Pete Largess demonstrates his climbing techniques, using a rope and harness to quickly ascend the NMAI’s Tulip Poplar. Image courtesy Allan Millora.



Having easily scaled a tree thanks to his ropes and harness, Pete Largess enjoys the view from the top of the NMAI’s –Tulip Poplar. Image courtesy Allan Millora.


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