Blackstone Parks Conservancy

Blackstone Boulevard Reforestation Project – Complete

This project developed from Estelle Singer’s tree steward service project. After completing the course, she chose to take inventory of all the trees on Blackstone Boulevard. She did this with the help of a committee she assembled to work towards an eventual planting project. Tree stewards, graduates of classes conducted under the auspices of the Rhode Island Tree Council, helped take inventory of the trees. Over the years, tree stewards have continued to help maintain the trees by pruning where needed.

The committee consisted of local residents on the one hand, and Fred Holman, then the landscape architect for the Providence Parks Department at the time on the other hand. Since the boulevard is a public park, the Friends of Blackstone Park & Boulevard depended on his over-all supervision and approval for everything that was done.

Committee members also were instrumental in getting funding for surfacing and maintaining the winding path down the center of the grassy median strip and in obtaining the original 1904 planting plans from the Olmsted Brothers archives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

When the committee decided to raise money to enhance the plantings on the boulevard, it applied for and received 501 (c) (3) status as The Friends of Blackstone Park & Boulevard in order to facilitate raising funds from state and federal governmental sources, private persons, and foundations.

Details of our Plan

Working with a copy of the original planting plan, as well as his professional evaluation of site conditions, Fred Holman created a planting plan for the entire boulevard that would provide color, texture, and beauty of form throughout the season. The plan specified a variety of ornamental trees locally purchased when available, and grown in zones 5, 6, or 7. The boulevard is within zone 6. The trees were planted singly and in groups of one species, such as ornamental cherries. No invasive species were included.

Money was raised to pay for five years of watering, mulching, fertilizing, and pruning to insure maximal survival and health. The contract for supplying and planting the trees required that any trees that died during the first year would be replaced free of charge. Groundwork Providence, a local non-profit, was contracted to maintain the trees for the first two years. Earth Friendly Gardeners maintained the plantings during the summers of 2006 and 2007. Since then, Groundwork Providence has done the work.

In 2000, the project received the Landscape Design/Open Space Award from the Providence Preservation Society,  and in 2007, Preserve Rhode Island gave us a Preservation Merit Award for our planting and maintenance plans on Blackstone Boulevard.