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Kissena Park

The Historic Kissena Park Grove Gets A Trim For Spring

Tuesday, March 27, 2007
No. 26

Just in time for their spring buds to form, more than 160 trees in and around the Kissena Park Historic Grove have been pruned. Although trees throughout the grove have been periodically pruned, this the first large-scale pruning of the whole grove. The pruning removed any deadwood or damaged branches and was done in a way that leaves the trees’ natural form intact.

"Flushing has many claims to fame, including its history as the site of some of the first commercial nurseries," said Queens Borough Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski. "Kissena Park is home to the remnants of one of these flourishing nurseries—the Parsons and Company nursery. We are thankful to New York Hospital Queens for providing this pruning service, which will help maintain the health of these trees—part of the City’s living history."

New York Hospital Queens paid for this $65,000 in-kind service as part of their temporary-use agreement for parking while the hospital is under construction. Valley Tree Service completed the pruning in and around the 14-acre grove on March 16, 2007. Eighty-two of the trees are historic trees from the 19th century nursery.

More than 100 varieties of trees thrive in the Historic Grove, located in the northern part of the park at Rose Avenue and Parsons Boulevard—many of them mature exotic specimens. The rarest include a Persian parrotia (Parrotica persica) of Iran, Chinese toon (Cedrela sinensis), and castor-aralia (Kalopanax pictus) of Japan, China, and Siberia. One of the most noticeable and interesting trees in the Grove is the katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) of Asia, which may appear to be one tree with many stems shooting from the ground. In fact, these trees were planted in a row as part of the nursery stock and now have fused together creating the illusion of a single tree.

Following the death of the eldest Parsons in 1906, the City acquired the property as parkland. All but 14 acres of the nursery stock were removed during the initial construction of Kissena Park. The site of the grove was rediscovered in 1981 by Parks horticulturist Shelly Stiles and her interns. Their goal was to clean up a two-acre area that had become overgrown. They were surprised to discover the remnants of the old Parsons nursery.

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