Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington is in the midst of a three-year plan to update the grounds of the complex. As seen on April 13, the large red pines have been removed and areas will be grassed with new shrubs and trees planted this spring or fall. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

FARMINGTON — Franklin Memorial Hospital will hold a work party beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 1.

Volunteers are needed to rake harvested areas and pick up rocks and sticks prior to hydroseeding those areas with grass. Gloves and rakes should be brought. Social distancing and masks will be required.

The work party is part of a three-year plan to upgrade the FMH campus, Franklin Community Health Network CFO Garrick Hyde said in a phone interview April 8.

FMH treats people for physical ailments, he said. The healing garden is a beautiful space patients and staff gravitate to in the summer, he noted.

“The underlying principal/goal of this project is, if we landscaped other areas thoughtfully it would have an opportunity to augment physical and emotional healing while here,” Hyde said. “There’s a lot of stress when people drive in. If they see something peaceful, calming when they drive in it starts the healing process. We want the public to feel welcome, invited.”

In the 1940s, the site was a tree farm with red and white pines planted in distinct groves, Hyde said.

“The red pines were around the hospital buildings and due west to the Wilton/Farmington border,” he said. “Seven acres white pines are still standing on the west side by Comfort Inn. Those will be harvested next January.”

All the trees were in bad shape with disease or blight, should have been harvested decades ago, Hyde said. Four pines fell over in the windstorm a few weeks ago, he noted.

This landscape design of the grounds at Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington shows what is being planned. Diseased red pines were harvested in January and white pines will be harvested in 2022. Robert Zundel of Tree Line Landscape in Farmington created the design.

In January the red pines were harvested from 19 acres: 3 acres around buildings and 16 acres in the forested areas. Younger hardwood trees are already growing there.

Any trees with logs greater than 42 inches went to Brunswick while shorter ones were cut into 12 and 16 foot logs, Hyde said.

“They’re going to Quebec, there’s not much of a market in the United States,” he said. “Canadians love them for decking.”

Some logs were saved to build a pavilion that will be ready to use this fall.

“I was standing outside in February, in 10-below temperatures thinking how nice it would be to memorialize some of the wood harvested, the tree farm history and pay homage to our past,” Hyde said.

Elements were chosen from several structures viewed online to come up with a 30 by 30 foot design.

“It’s going to be wonderful,” Hyde said. “It will have a metal roof, an overhang to protect the wood,” he said. “The foundation will be poured this summer. Water and electricity will run to it from the Mt. Blue building for night meetings.”

Handicapped parking spaces will be installed this spring in front of the Mt. Blue building which houses the primary care clinic.

The Farmington Conservation Commission has been helping with this project. It’s an ongoing effort, the Commission sees it as good urban forestry, Hyde said.

One Commission member, Robert Zundel owner of Tree Line Landscape donated a design rendering showing a variety of shrubs and trees, both conifers and deciduous that will withstand salt and provide color, Hyde said.

“He was so kind, I hired him to plant the trees,” Hyde said. “He is such a gem. His creativity is amazing. He suggested planting edible things. 12 disease resistant apple varieties and highbush blueberries that will provide red color in the fall will be included.”

Those will work well with the food pantry being started for the community, he noted.

Some plantings will be done this spring, some this fall and some next year.

An awesome solution was derived for watering, Hyde said.

“We have no irrigation system now but we do have fire hydrants,” he said. “I contacted the water district to ask about attaching watering systems to those. The hydrants and large hoses on wheels will provide easy access where needed. The hospital will pay for the water.”

After hydroseeding, areas will need to be watered daily for the first couple weeks, then less frequently afterwards. The most visible areas will have other plants, shrubs and trees added this year, others next year.

“Red oaks will be planted along the Loop Road,” Hyde said. “It will create a promenade as they get bigger. As you pull into the main parking lot, the area to the left in front of the big auditorium is where the pavilion will be. It will be an outdoor space for employees to eat lunch, hold outdoor meetings and available for public use.”

The plan is to use some large, well-established trees from special sources that cost about $500 each in the design, Hyde said. People will be able to “buy” a tree as a memorial, he said.

“Ideally, we’d plant the trees first and people could walk around and choose a tree to sponsor,” Hyde said.

For more information call Jill Gray, FCHN community relations director at 207-779-2555.

The third year things will start to get really beautiful with the bushes and flowers, Hyde said. Zundel has suggested identification placards be used like in an arboretum, he said.

“This has been such a fun project,” Hyde said. “It was thoughtfully done. Seeing what it will look like, it’s lifted people’s mood. Most people have a really positive reaction.”



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