Dorothy Dobbie and Matt Vinet of Green Drop Trees discuss the world of Winnipeg trees. They touch on the special trees of this is city and indeed the province. Why do we see lone trees set against the vast prairie sky in the middle of a field with no other trees for miles around? Were they planted by some former pioneer or by a passing bird?

Matt talks about the gigantic cottonwood near the Disraeli bridge, over 100 years old, he estimates. The canopy is immense.

Matt also brings us up to date on the mayor’s million tree challenge which has gained a more concrete shape as time has gone by and is now spread over 20 years and is simply a dream to encourage private owners to plant trees. Meanwhile, what is happening to the street and boulevard trees in the city? They are dying. Despite the forestry’s best efforts, we are losing close to 10,000 elms per year and if nothing changes, matt estimates that one day they will all be gone.

It’s very disheartening, he says, to see so may of your patients dying no matter how hard you work to keep them alive. His staff find it very discouraging.

He tells us about how he has kept the three street elms closest to his own home alive and thriving and what you can do for the trees on your street. One way is a planned regimen of pruning – at least once every ten years, and an injection of tree fungicide every three years or so to keep Dutch elm disease at bay. But most importantly and most readily available to most homeowners is to water well.

There is a discussion about the use of salt as a snow de-icer and its deleterious effects on the city trees.  Is it a false economy to de-ice using salt when salt also erodes concrete, rusts cars and kills plant life?

With the continued use of salt, Matt believes that the urban forest as a public entity, but even trees on private properties near the street, will have little chance of surviving long enough for new plantings to live past 10 years. He says our choices for street trees are becoming increasingly limited.

The choices are down to three if salt continues to be used and one of these is the Russian Olive that has a short lifespan. If there was no salt use, we would still be limited in what is likely to survive due to compaction of the earth and other factors, but at least there are more. One of these is the good old Manitoba maple and another is Linden, which his currently a favoured street tree. He mentions Ohio buckeye as well.

Matt Vinet is an ISA certified arborist. He represents the international organization here in Manitoba and he is a long time member of the Trees Winnipeg board.