Naples landscaping coming up roses

MULCHING — An employee from Sabra Property Care uses a pneumatic blower to disperse mulch on the north side of the Bay of Naples Bridge in May. (De Busk Photo)

MULCHING — An employee from Sabra Property Care uses a pneumatic blower to disperse mulch on the north side of the Bay of Naples Bridge in May. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Everything is coming up roses.

Rather, all the recently-planted flowers, shrubbery and trees are thriving on the Naples Causeway.

According to Kent Cooper, the senior landscape architect with the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT), the landscaping is in good shape.

“We are having lots and lots of nice rain so everything is growing really well,” Cooper said on Monday.

“The day lilies and beach roses seem to be putting on a good show,” he said.

Cooper said that during the last week of June he was on the site of the Bay of Naples Bridge and Causeway construction project, and had time to inspect the landscaping and periodically pluck a few weeds.

“The town has hired a local maintenance company; and I have done a couple walk-a-rounds with him. So, everything is going to be in good hands,” he said.

In the same way that it can take years for an acorn to produce an oak tree, it took numerous hours of planning for the Causeway Restoration Committee to settle on a list of trees and perennials that could survive the terrain.

Also, the committee had settled on a primitive-style amphitheater.

Luck and timing clicked into place last fall when the general contractor for the project, Wyman and Simpson Inc., was creating the amphitheater. Granite stones from a demolished bridge in north Augusta were delivered for the seats and steps of the amphitheater in Naples.

“It happened to be mostly dictated by the types of granite pieces we ended up with,” Cooper said.

“I sent out e-mails to see if (MDOT) people were taking out any granite. About the third day, I got a reply from an on-site engineer. They were taking down a bridge in north Augusta. (The granite) was from an old stone bridge that they were taking down because it was too small for the road that was being upgraded,” Cooper said.

“Naples was lucky to get DOT to bring something and salvage it, re-use it,” he said, adding that does not happen very often.

The MDOT landscaper was excited about the floral selection for the amphitheater area.

“We planted an unusual apricot-colored potentilla,” he said.

“Gardeners always want new colors and stuff like that,” he said.

The planting project got assistance from CRC member Carmen Caron, who is also an avid gardener.

“Carmen has been helping me with the layout. We held a whole lot of meetings with the causeway committee and the garden club over the past two years. She was available during the daytime, so she met with me on numerous occasions,” Cooper explained.

Russian sage, which prefers dry soil, and cat mint, which does well in wet soil, were planted along the Causeway.

Both the mint and sage will yield blue flowers all summer, Cooper said.

“There are actually quite a few light yellows and pinks from the day lilies, and the blue will be a nice contrast,” he said.

Additionally, ornamental grasses were planted including karl foerster grass and panicum vergatum.

“Switch grass is the common name. It will be showy in the fall,” he said.

In May, a landscaping crew from Sabra Property Care transplanted a couple varieties of paper birch trees.

On the north side, some white spire paper birch was placed in the soil.

“We planted Renaissance Reflection, too.

Also this spring, a balsam fir took up residence on the far southwest end of the new bridge. It will be the town’s Christmas tree.

The town plans to string up lights on the tree. It is located on a nice area of lawn that provides room for people to gather around for holiday rituals.

In September 2012, American basswood and liberty elms were put into the earth. Those have overwintered well, Cooper said.

These trees are disease-resistant. This species of elm is resistant against the Dutch elm disease that wiped out so many elms in New England towns, he said.

In addition to the plants’ health being in order, Naples’ residents have made many complimentary comments about the landscaping, Cooper said.

“People seem to be pleased with it,” he said.

The majority of the greenery has taken root on the Causeway. Even the sod, a lush lawn that was placed in strips in late May, has been growing wonderfully under June’s conditions.

Still, a few days before the Fourth of July, there was some tree-transplanting taking place.

“They are planting the last trees today,” Cooper said on Monday.

Along the rights-of-way in front of the Bay of Naples Condominiums the landscaping crew was adding some evergreen trees to the existing white pine trees.

“We are planting some Norway spruce, and yews to create some buffer from the sound of the traffic over the bridge,” he said.

The condominium residents “have commented that the new bridge is infinitely quieter than everything that used to be there,” Cooper said.

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