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MyhometownBronxville Photographer Neely Bower Captures Magnificent Photos of Snowy Owl on Holiday in Nantucket PDF Print Email


By Neely Bower

Jan. 16, 2019:  After many years of spending the Christmas holidays in Nantucket, I finally spotted my first snowy owl. We came upon this one on an afternoon drive up the beach.  

I came home and did a little research on this species of owl and learned that they migrate south from the Arctic in search of food. Nantucket is perfect with its open marshes and similar terrain. Apparently, in Nantucket, there has been an insurgency in the past few years.

We were very fortunate; he/she put on quite a show.










Trees of Bronxville Are Amazing PDF Print Email


By Ellen Edwards, Member, Bronxville Green Committee

Jan. 9, 2019:  Did you know that the mighty oak is the official national tree? Lucky for us, Bronxville has many magnificent oak trees.

Like so much else about Bronxville, our mature tree canopy is a legacy left by thoughtful forefathers. That includes William Van Duzer Lawrence, who, in planning the development of Hilltop at the turn of the twentieth century, was drawn to the area’s hilly, wooded landscape and chose to preserve many of the existing native trees. The 1925 completion of the Bronx River Parkway, the first limited access, car-only highway bordered by a public park, ensured the preservation of acres of well-treed parkland. Such foresight, and the care of generations of homeowners and village stewards who followed, has left us the gift of mature northern red oaks, white oaks, towering tulip poplars, sycamores, maples, American beech, white ash, white pine, and sweet gums. 


Mature trees add priceless value to Bronxville. One large canopy tree on the school or library grounds provides enough oxygen for four people. Trees purify the air by removing dangerous compounds, such as carbon monoxide, ozone, and sulfur dioxide; and particulate matter such as pollen, dust, and soot. Trees also help clean our drinking water by acting as huge sponges and redirecting rainwater back to the soil, where natural processes filter out pollutants and refill underground water supplies. One reason why Bronxville’s water is of such high quality is that it comes from an immense heavily forested, highly protected watershed one hundred miles north of us. By purifying the water we drink, those forests are making New York City—and Bronxville—one of very few municipalities that are not required to filter their water in an expensive facility.

It’s estimated that 100 mature trees can absorb 250,000 gallons of rainwater per year, making the landscape more resistant to flooding. Trees can calm winds, grow fruit and nuts for us to eat, and help fight climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide. According to, during one year, a mature tree will absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide and release oxygen in exchange. (To put this in perspective, burning one gallon of non-ethanol gasoline in an internal combustion vehicle releases 20 pounds of carbon dioxide.)


People often underestimate the power of trees to cool the air. Trees can lower daytime temperatures up to 10° F and nighttime temperatures up to 22° F by releasing water vapor through their leaves. The result: fewer incidents of heat exhaustion and less energy required for air conditioners. Years ago, a mature tree canopy and generous sleeping porches—vestiges of which are still visible in many Bronxville homes—were enough to make the summer heat bearable without air conditioning.

Studies have shown that spending time in a natural environment that includes trees promotes emotional wellbeing and lowers blood pressure, even helps fight disease. Trees muffle sound, provide habit for squirrels and possums (the first abundant, the second also seen in Bronxville) as well as many other animals, and beautify ugly sights such as concrete walls and acres of asphalt. The existence of mature trees increases home values by many thousands of dollars. 


Trees are remarkable living beings whose complexities we’re only just beginning to understand. In The Hidden Life of Trees, German forester Peter Wohlleben reveals the startling ways in which trees communicate with each other through chemical warning systems and fungal networks that bind the root system of one tree to another—a phenomenon that some have called “the wood-wide web.” He describes a cooperation among trees that can seem unbelievable—how a “mother” tree can nurse its “babies” and how two trees of the same species that receive different amounts of sunlight, and thus produce differing amounts of energy through photosynthesis, can share nutrients through their root systems so that each has enough to survive the winter. 

Many of these processes have been discovered only in mature, undisturbed forests and never in the parklike setting that characterizes Bronxville. But the behavior of trees in an ideal setting can suggest what trees need to thrive.

Trees suffer increasing stresses from more frequent storms, further development of the built environment, invasive species, and disease. Perhaps if we better appreciate just how amazing trees are and all the ways they contribute to our own well-being, we’ll be inspired to continue Bronxville’s long tradition of caring well for its trees. 

Photos courtesy Ellen Edwards

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff. 


Protecting Your Bronxville Property from Falling Trees and Keeping Trees Healthy PDF Print Email


By Ellen Edwards, Member, Bronxville Green Committee

Nov. 28, 2018: As storms in recent months have reminded us, the mature tree canopy that so graces and defines Bronxville cannot be taken for granted. Strong winds and torrential downpours have undermined root systems and upended hundred-year-old trees, some with trunks five or six feet in diameter. Residents have expressed concern about how to protect their property from falling trees and keep their trees healthy and safe.

According to Deanna Curtis, curator of Woody Plants and landscape project manager at The New York Botanical Garden, recent storms are not historically stronger than storms of the past, but their ever-increasing frequency is not normal. That frequency combined with the heavily built environment—extensive pavement and construction that provide less surface area for rainwater to be absorbed into the ground—has significantly changed run-off patterns and increased flooding. Exposed ground becomes more saturated, making trees vulnerable. When they fall, they can take other trees down with them and damage root systems that are entwined with their own.

Trees are also prey to invasive plant species such as Asiatic bittersweet, porcelain-berry, winged euonymus, and black locust. According to Curtis, invasive species brought onto residential property by birds and other animals can out-compete established trees. As Bronxville trees reach what is typically “old age” for urban/suburban trees—the average lifespan of a street tree is only 25 years—they are more prone to disease; damage can also make them vulnerable to parasites and fungi. Curtis noted that the unusually wet summer just past may have encouraged a fungal disease in some trees that made them lose their leaves early. Another unexpected threat: new home construction and a preference for sunny gardens can lead homeowners to remove perfectly healthy trees. 

The Village of Bronxville has a sizeable budget and a vigorous program for pruning, removing, and replacing trees in public spaces and within the right-of-way of residential property. Mayor Mary Marvin has shared the village’s plan to replace eight to ten trees in the village center and surround them with porous Flexi-Pave material to help absorb rainwater and protect the root systems. Financed in part by a generous donation from the Boulder Ledge Garden Club, the project is replacing hornbeams and gingkos along Kraft Avenue, Meadow Avenue, and Park Place with native species such as swamp white oaks (on the corner of Park and Kraft), maples (on Meadow), locusts (on Cedar), Zelkovas (on Kraft across from People’s Bank), and an American elm (at intersection of Kraft and Pondfield). On the west side of town, some Bradford pear trees, ornamentals that have proven to be less hearty, will also be replaced.

Village administrator Jim Palmer encourages homeowners to get an assessment of their trees by a trained and experienced arborist. Once their trees are pruned, repaired, and, if necessary, removed, owners will enjoy greater peace of mind when the next storm strikes. Deanna Curtis said, “After a storm, homeowners should check for broken or hanging limbs, trunk cracks, or partially uprooted tree roots and have any immediate hazard pruned or removed by a trained professional.” warns against scam artists who pose as arborists after storms and recommends six rules to follow: don’t try to do it all yourself; take safety precautions; remove broken branches still attached to the tree; repair torn bark; resist the urge to over prune; and never top your trees.

When replacing trees, Curtis explains that native species are often, but not always, considered a better choice than non-native species; among professionals, it’s a complicated and controversial subject. She adds, “Some great regional native trees species include the following: large trees such as oaks (pin, red, white, swamp white, scarlet, and black, among others), maples (red or sugar—certain cultivars are better than others for this climate), and black tupelo; and smaller to midsize trees: redbud, flowering dogwood, and sweetbay magnolia.” Many slow-growing species such as white oak are better able to withstand strong storms than faster-growing species such as silver maples. But plenty of tree species grow at a moderate rate, reach a good size in a reasonable amount of time, and, if pruned to ensure what Curtis calls “the right branch architecture,” can also withstand intense wind. 

Tree roots are more shallow and cover a greater distance than most people realize, said Curtis—much farther than the tree’s drip line. Most roots live within the top two feet of soil, and they need well-aerated (not compacted) soil to promote growth and the flow of nutrients—something homeowners might consider more seriously when altering the buildings, pavement, and landscaping on their property. Even a paved versus not-paved driveway can affect tree roots. Trees thrive in good soil, and an easy first step to restoring the health of soil that’s been depleted by the regular use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is the application of mulch and compost within a tree’s root zone. A generously sized ring of mulch around a tree’s trunk can also stop lawn mowers from hitting, and harming, the base of the trunk. And staking a tree that has been newly transplanted from a nursery can help it withstand bad weather when its root system is still vulnerable.

How can Bronxville best preserve its existing tree canopy? According to Curtis, planting new trees of different species over many years is the best way to help ensure that the village won’t lose its trees all at once because of old age, pests, or storms.

Bronxville has been designated a “Tree City USA” by the Arbor Day Foundation for more than a decade. Maintaining that coveted distinction in the future may require more planning and care. A hundred-year-old tree can be lost in a moment, but to replace it takes…well, a hundred years. 

Photo by Ellen Edwards

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.



Take Action Against Climate Change PDF Print Email


By Ellen Edwards, Member, Bronxville Green Committee

Oct. 31, 2018:  For those of you want to take action after reading about the recent report of the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change, which describes dire consequences if we don’t drastically reduce our use of fossil fuels within the next ten years, here’s what you can do in your home now. At the end of this list are more ambitious projects that would affect all of Bronxville. They would require a few brave souls to take the first steps.  

-Earth care is a mindset to be cultivated: consider the full lifecycle of items you bring into your home. What was the environmental impact when they were made? What will it be when they “die”? Can you choose earth-friendly items instead or lighten their impact through longer use and recycling? See for more info and tips. 

-Consider adopting earth-friendly landscaping practices. Help keep chemicals and leaves out of our streams and storm sewer system and make your property more resistant to drought and flooding while enhancing the micro-biotic health of your plants, soil, and the birds, bees, and butterflies that find refuge there.   

-Help keep plastic out of oceans by carrying a tote for small purchases. Bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store.

-Check out for updates on what food and beverage containers can be recycled. Don’t “contaminate” recycling bins by including items that aren’t clean or don’t meet the criteria.

-To recycle junk mail, you must remove tape, plastic linings, and “windows” (yes, alas, all those cellophane windows should be torn out and trashed). Place paper loose in recycle bins. 

-Many kinds of plastic bags can be recycled at grocery stores—plastic grocery bags, dry cleaning bags, bread and thin vegetable bags, newspaper sleeves, and some packing material. These cannot be recycled: cling wrap and prepackaged food bags, including those for frozen food and pre-washed salad. Read the instructions on packaging. Check out for details.

-Add clean aluminum foil and trays and empty aerosol cans to the recycle bin for glass, metals, and plastics. Return wire coat hangers to dry cleaners. 

-Consider saving clean Styrofoam (and other clean foam) containers and alkaline batteries for when they can be recycled. lists local places that will accept them now.

-Dispose of contact lenses in the trash, never down the drain where they clog the sanitary sewer system.

-Americans waste 40% of all food produced. Can you purchase more carefully and use up the leftovers, the already-opened, and older stuff before buying more? You can safely consume products past their sell-by dates. Sometimes a half-empty refrigerator is not a bad thing.

-Would you consider encouraging your family to live more lightly on the land by eating less meat and fish? It’s a choice with a big impact.

-Have you considered putting solar panels on your roof? When it comes to lowering your carbon footprint, nothing beats them. can help you find subsidies.

-Traveling by air and cruise ship releases enormous amounts of planet-warming gases. Do you really need to take that business trip? Have you ever considered a vacation destination closer to home? Or investigated traveling by train? You may be surprised by what you discover! is a terrific resource with a user-friendly website—check it out! 

Projects that would affect all of Bronxville: 

-Have you considered getting together with a few concerned parents to lobby for a vigorous recycling program at the school that includes composting? This would require the proper bins and signage—and a separate waste hauler—along with a thoughtful education program for all grade levels about the impact of waste on our environment and our role in reducing that impact through the choices we make. You’d be changing minds as well as behavior and raising a new generation of environmentally conscious, responsible citizens. Scarsdale is already leading the way.

-Can Bronxville gain “Climate Smart Communities Certification”? In this state-sponsored program, municipalities achieve a certain number of objectives to acquire certification at the bronze and silver levels. Mamaroneck has already achieved bronze certification. Learn more at

-Can your church, business, or apartment complex go green? Why not take the first steps: form a team and make a plan. Churches can find a blueprint for action at

Fighting climate change is a worldwide problem best fought on the most local level, in the communities where we live, in the places we love. Each of us has a role to play. What’s yours?

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

Gung-Hoe Gardener: Time to Clean Out the Garden and Plant Bulbs PDF Print Email


By N. Bower

Oct. 3, 2018:  Early October is a busy time in the garden. You should be cleaning up plants that are finished for the season. Daylilies and hostas are the first that come to mind.

Speaking of daylilies and hostas, this is a perfect time to divide them. First, dig up a clump, then take two garden forks, put the forks back-to-back in the clump, and pry apart. They separate very easily this way with little damage. 

All perennials that are not still blooming need to be cut to the ground. Use your fingers to comb through the daylily foliage to remove the dead leaves; in some cases, there will not be much of the plant remaining--this is ok. If your hostas are turning brown, remove the dead leaves and the flower stem or cut them down and clean up the area.

Next, you need to get out your bulb catalogues. I recommend John Scheepers, which can be found online.  You can plant your bulbs anytime through the end of November, as long as the ground does not freeze.

Be creative this year. Daffodils are tried and true, but you may already have enough of these. Try alliums or leucojum for a change. I stay away from tulips because they tend to bloom well only in the first year and peter out the following years. They also fall victim to squirrels and bunnies.

When planting your bulbs, refer to the instructions that come with them for depth, and plant them in groups, never individually. Dig a hole that will accommodate five or six, not touching, add a little bone meal, cover, and wait for a surprise in the spring.

Photo by N. Bower

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