Those Bradfords may be pretty, but they’re causing big problems
Recently, a reader wrote to the Centre Daily Times that their neighbor experienced several flat tires on his farm machinery this summer while making hay in fields around his Boalsburg farm. Thorns/spikes on branches of small seedlings and saplings that are invading the hay fields are evidently the cause of the damage.
Now, what is causing this problem was the next question.
Research on the internet pointed the reader to the “Bradford” pear — yes, those white blooming trees you see everywhere in the springtime, especially in developments around town. What they found out was that all those white blooming trees are now an environmental disaster happening right before our very eyes.
As reported at the Charlotte, N.C.-based WCNC, it seems that just about every white blooming tree in the springtime — with only the exception of wild plums, which is a short multi-flora tree that seldom reaches over 8 feet in height — are an ecological nightmare, getting worse and worse every year and obliterating our wonderful native trees from the rural landscape.
This especially applies to that “charming” Bradford pear that has been planted along many grass strips between the roadway and the sidewalk or in the middle of your front yard. It seems that the Bradford pear is worse than kudzu (I have seen that in North Carolina climb over abandoned buildings), and the problem seems to be progeny of Bradford pear.
According to WCNC, when the Bradford pear was first introduced as an ornamental in 1964 by the US Department of Agriculture, it was known then that this tree possessed the weakest branch structure in nature. Anyone who has seen Bradford pear trees after an ice storm knows what I’m talking about. I remember the ice storm in Park Forest more that a few years ago. Also, the
count it as one of their favorite pieces, according to Mary Krohn-Smith, an elementary instrumental music teacher who is involved with the program.
The students were impressed that someone could compose a lengthy arrangement in different instruments, Krohn-Smith said, rather than just for one instrument.
“She wrote it for the violin, the viola, the cello, and the bass, (and they didn’t know) that that could be done, so it was inspiring to them,” Krohn-Smith said.
MAKING MUSIC TOGETHER
In addition to seeing her current students play Ashley’s song, Krohn-Smith also taught Ashley last year, and remembers how Ashley performed in not only band and orchestra, but choir as well.
Now, Krohn-Smith is looking forward to watching these connections come together.
“It’s a fun evening,” Krohn-Smith said. “It’s a fun evening for the kids, for the parents, just to make music together, and for all the children to do community building and get to know someone from across town. And the whole thing for Ashley — for the kids to actually see her, it’s like ‘Oh, she’s (actually) the composer.’”
This year’s program will also be a homecoming of sorts for another former member: Emma Van Allen. Van Allen is now an elementary orchestra teacher When: Where: Info: in the State College Area School District, but, through the Partners in Music program, was also a student teacher and conductor for the concert before graduating from Penn State in 2014 with her degree in music education. This is the first year Van Allen has been a teacher in the district since graduation, and she said it’s been “wonderful” getting to experience both sides of the program, first as a participant and now as a teacher.
“As a teacher in State College Area School District, I find this opportunity extremely valuable for my participating fifth grade students,” Van Allen said via email. “As a pre-service teacher, the Penn State Partners in Music Program gave me authentic field experience conducting and teaching orchestra students.”
The program, she added, allowed her an opportunity to direct students during each rehearsal and perform a full piece at the concert — experiences that helped her develop different rehearsal techniques and learn how to teach efficiently.
“Seeing students excitedly progress in each rehearsal and work together to make music reinforced my dream of becoming an orchestra teacher,” Van Allen said.
Bradford pear trees offer visual appeal but are highly prone to splitting because of weak branch structure.