Newport Arboretum Week kicks off this Friday, April 20th and will run through the following Friday, April 27th. It is a week of events in celebration of Newport's urban forest and New England's first city-wide arboretum, courtesy of the Newport Tree Society and all those who volunteer to make it possible.
The greatest part about Arboretum Week is that the Ivy Lodge is located in the heart of the Mansions District, where many of Newport's iconic copper beech trees are located. There are actually a few beech trees right across the street! These trees are extremely large, with great canopies that provide much of the cover and shade around Newport and along Bellevue Avenue. Many of the trees were imported from Europe during the Gilded Age, between 1853 and 1914.
The unfortunate truth about these majestic wonders is that they won't be around for much longer. Like us, trees too have lifespans. A typical copper beech tree will live anywhere from 100 to 125 years. Also like us, they are subject to disease as they get older. Oddly enough, a very high percentage of Newport's trees were all planted around the same time, and most are old and dying now; many suffering from a disease, an algae, that destroys their circulatory system. Without these beautiful plants, Newport's cityscape will be much different. There have been public initiatives for the past 20 years to plant new growth trees in expectation of this, but it is a little late. Also, many of the best specimens are located on private property. Seeing the majesty of Bellevue Avenue should be something at the top of a vacationer's check list this spring and summer, as there may not be another chance for a long time.