SUNBURY — Last summer, one of the prominent oak trees providing protection at Keithan’s Bluebird Gardens was toppled as bacteria spread through several trees in the garden. On Thursday — Earth Day — a replacement was planted, one the caretakers of the site expect to tower over the popular attraction for decades.
After two hours of work grinding away the remainder of the tree removed last June, a smaller hole was dug in nearly the same location. There, Good’s Tree Service owner Bob Good planted a new American Dream White Oak.
Good said they chose the new oak tree because it is more resistant to bacterial issues that have felled other trees, including oaks.
“Red Oaks and Pin Oaks are especially susceptible,” Good said. “The American Dream White Oak has done well in a lot of trials, it grows faster and will fill in this space faster.”
Good said he expects the tree — which is about 10 feet tall now — to grow to close to 100 feet over the next 50 or 60 years.
“I expect it will outlive us all,” he said.
Keithan’s Bluebird Gardens is a 1 1/2-acre garden, located at the end of South Second Street. It was planted by former Sunbury candymaker Charles Keithan in the 1920s. Keithan died in 1981 and the city took over maintenance of the property, which is used for prom and wedding pictures. Various people sit at the benches and eat through the course of the day
Good and Paul Murray, who also helps to maintain the grounds, said the trees at the garden are key to the viability of the property.
“Trees are really important to the garden,” Murray said. “They provide canopies and shade for the other plants. It’s really exciting to see a new tree going in. We haven’t had a lot of new trees over the past five years.
“This is fantastic,” said Lane Murray, one of the caretakers of the property. “This garden is here because of the oak trees and leaves. We’re trying to give the gardens a rebirth, trimming back and having some new growth. It’s awesome to see this new tree.”
Good called the gardens an “unbelievable needle in a haystack,” noting it is approaching the peak of its beauty.
“This place has a variety of rhododendron and azaleas that rival anything in Central Pennsylvania,” Good said. “You have to go to Longwood Gardens or the Philadelphia gardens to see more variety. This place is spectacular in May.