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New cherry trees planted in Long Island City waterfront park

The Hunters Point Park Conservancy planted new cherry trees around the iconic oval in one of Long Island City's waterfront parks. (Courtesy of HPPC)

The Hunters Point Park Conservancy marked Earth Day 2021 by planting four new yoshino cherry trees to replace others that have died since their initial planting back in 2013.

The yoshino cherry trees currently ring the oval in Hunters Point South Park and make for some of the most iconic images of the public space when they bloom in the spring, usually in early April.

The trees are known for their vibrant display of white-pink blossoms and faint almond fragrance. The new plantings were purchased by the Hunters Point Park Conservancy through the New York Tree Trust.

“The cherry trees are not only a beautiful presence in the park but also provide much-needed shade,” HPPC President Rob Basch said. “The conservancy is thrilled that we were able to purchase these trees to replace the empty spaces with healthy vibrant trees that complete the circle.”

Throughout the summer the trees are known for their unique branching pattern, glossy bark and dark green leaves. The trees also provide an important source of food for many small birds and mammals.

“The ring of cherry blossoms around the oval in Hunters Point South Park is one of the most iconic images of the LIC waterfront,” HPPC Board Member Leonard Klipper said. “And we hope these trees will bring some beauty and happiness to the lives of our neighbors for years to come.”

The trees planted in the park came from Oregon, where they started as seedlings before being shipped to Long Island’s North Fork where the NYC Parks nursery is located. The trees were already seven to 10 years old before they were purchased by the conservancy and will need a few more years to fill out. The conservancy was originally formed in 1998 as Friends of Gantry Plaza State Park. The nonprofit organization expanded its mission and scope in 2013 with the opening of Hunters Point South Park, the 11-acre built upon an abandoned post-industrial area of Long Island City.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the conservancy to scale back its operations last spring, but between June and December, they held 56 volunteer days attended by 514 volunteers, who removed 856 bags of weeds from the parks, pruned 750 plants, planted 1,300 plants and 13,000 bulbs — and now planted the yoshino cherry trees.

“The importance of trees to our planet cannot be overstated,” Basch said. “A single tree produces approximately 260 pounds of oxygen per year. That means four mature trees can supply enough oxygen annually to support two families of four. We invite everyone down to our waterfront park to breathe the fresh air in our parks.”

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