As work on the grounds of the Naylor property across from the Town Common continues, Londonderry High School film students are in the process of producing another episode of their series “This Old House in Londonderry.”
The students’ first episode, featuring the renovation of the former pastor’s home, has been running on Comcast Cable Channel 21, the Londonderry School District’s educational channel, since June 1.
The next episode will feature a one-on-one interview with arborist Lee Gilman, owner of Amherst-based Lee Gilman and Associates. Gilman and his crews started last week on work to preserve the original landscaping of the Pillsbury Road property.
Cindy Miller, an LHS junior who served as a lead producer for the show, said she learned a lot from the arborist and appreciated the opportunity to film an interview on a topic she wasn’t familiar with beforehand.
Leading a tour of the historic property, Gilman showed Miller several trees that have matured well over 100 years and that he thinks were planted to provide shade to both the home and townspeople, when they gathered for social events.
To the side of the property, Gilman found dogwood shrubs he thinks, based on their placement, were also part of the original landscaping.
“There are some large oak trees and a few large white pines, but mostly there are sugar maples,” said Gilman, who serves on the Amherst Conservation Commission. “These trees were either planted as a town effort, or by someone within the Town who had a lot of resources. If this was a town or community effort, the sugar maples were probably being tapped and the trees offered abundant shade for social functions without having to go into the forest.”
In addition to clearing vegetation competing with the mature trees, Gilman’s crews are completing extensive removal of invasive species and poison ivy on the property.
“We’re being very selective in what we’re taking out,” he said. “There’s so much to do before we can care for trees individually. What we’re doing is preparing the site for them.”
Through pruning and proper management of the site, Gilman said it’s possible the focal trees planted on the property over a century ago could live another 100 years.
“We’re really bringing up the quality of the ecosystem here,” he said, noting the importance of such maintenance and addressing invasive plants on a property quickly, before the invasives begin to suffocate native plant life. “It’s important people be good stewards of the land.”
In addition to providing shade and resources for native wildlife, focal trees also bring a sense of calm to the observer of a property, according to Gilman.
By removing invasive and other successional growth, Gilman’s crews will return the property to its historic landscaping.
“We’re bringing the historic design back into prominence and bringing the prominent trees back into the forefront,” he said. “The scale would be different, but people will see the property looking more like it did 100 years ago.
“This is what we believe in,” said property owner Richard Flier. “We’re doing this for the Town, so we can set a good example and bring back the whole potential of the site.”