Fair Haven tree wins third place in New Jersey Big Tree Hunt

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FAIR HAVEN – On the rainy morning of June 3, six members of the Rumson Garden Club’s conservation book club gathered to cheer on fellow club member Wendy Murphy as she and the borough of Fair Haven – on behalf of a tulip tree – received a third place award from Joseph C. Bennett, New Jersey Forestry’s Big and Heritage Tree Coordinator, Division of Parks and Forestry, Community Forestry Program.

The genesis of this interest in trees arose when the coronavirus pandemic hit last year, according to a press release from the Rumson Garden Club. The club, which is a member club of The Garden Club of America, formed a virtual book club focusing on conservation topics.

Meeting through Zoom, the members discussed topics ranging from how to positively affect local communities and the environment to how they could raise awareness about the value of native plants, trees and the healing power of spending time in nature, even if that was in one’s own backyard, according to the press release.

Trees, as well as native plants, creating and maintaining healthy habitats caught the Rumson Garden Club members’ interest.

So when the Rumson Environmental Council promoted a new statewide Big Tree Hunt, club members grabbed their measuring tapes and went in search of the largest tree.

Three club members who reside in Fair Haven contacted the borough’s Shade Tree Commission to encourage participation. The trio spent a full day searching for trees to measure and nominate, according to the press release.

Murphy identified a tulip tree in the Williams, Albert and Robard Park on DeNormandie Avenue which is estimated to be more than 100 years old.

“The tree looks like it wants to tell you its story of what it has witnessed on the banks of the Navesink River,” Murphy was quoted as saying in the press release.

The tree sits on the site of the former home of Charles Williams and his family. According to a plaque at the park, Williams was a free Black man who was in charge of maintaining horses at Rohallion estate in Rumson and was gifted the land by his employer as a wedding present.

The house that formerly stood on the property was constructed in 1853 by Williams and the property remained in the family for more than 150 years.

During those years, the family allowed all who came to the property’s shore to use their beach. It is in that spirit that the land was preserved and protected to allow free and open access to the Navesink River, according to the press release.

As a result of Murphy’s efforts, the tulip tree is now recognized as a Signature Tree on the New Jersey Big Tree Registry.

To raise awareness about the importance of big trees and the positive impact they make on the environment, click on the link https://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/forest/community/bigtree_intro.html

For more information about the Rumson Garden Club, visit rumsongardenclubnj.org