letter to the editor

No mesquite trees in landscaping plan

Posted:  Monday, March 12, 2018 - 3:30pm

Dear Editor:

I would like to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on several issues that have been brought up regarding the roundabout landscape plan.

There is not, nor has ever been, any “Prosopis or Mesquite trees” in the plan. The viewer may have mistaken the Physocarpus opulifolius shrubs that are in the planting beds around the roundabout for Prosopis. Physocarpus, also known as Eastern or Atlantic Ninebark, is a species of flowering shrub native to eastern North America. Ninebark are fast growing, drought tolerant, insect and disease resistant and very adaptable to a variety of soil conditions. They have a lovely blossom, foliage color, and winter interest due to their beautiful exfoliating bark, not to mention it is also a valuable nectar source for many pollinators, including native bees.

The Colorado Blue Spruce, also known as Picea pungens glauca, was chosen as the centerpiece of the roundabout because it is a stately pyramidal evergreen tree that would serve as a bold focal point in the landscape. It is a beautiful ornamental specimen tree with a formal symmetrical shape that branches to the ground; it has a bold texture with stunning blueish silver needles. It is drought tolerant, winter salt-spray tolerant, cold hardy, as well as deer resistant. Though it is not a Maine native, it is certainly not an invasive tree by any means. It has a slow growth rate of less than 12 inches per year and can take 35 to 50 years for it to grow to Its mature size of 50 feet tall and 20 feet wide.

As far as the concern of sight lines goes, engineers seem to take a different approach to managing traffic in a roundabout. Unlike traditional intersections, visibility through the roundabout is not necessarily a contributing factor to safety, in fact it can be quite the opposite. What larger trees are meant to do is block some visibility, so people approach the roundabout slower and with more caution. By blocking out other distractions you are keeping the driver’s focus to the left where the traffic is coming from.

Lauren Bradley

Roundabout Landscape Committee