A tree grows in Watertown Square – and it’s no ordinary tree. This tree honors Watertown’s own Tree Warden, Chris Hayward, for being named Massachusetts Tree Warden of the Year.
Hayward received the Tree Warden of the Year award from the Massachusetts Tree Wardens and Foresters Association earlier this year, and as part of the award he got to have a tree planted in his town in his honor.
On Wednesday morning, a white fir was planted on the Watertown Square Delta, just a stone’s throw from the bus stop. A couple dozen people came to congratulate him, including co-workers, elected officials, residents and his wife, mother and mother- and father-in-laws.
The evergreen is about 10 feet tall, but it could grow to several times that height in about 80 years time. The tree was planted near where one of the giant Norway Maples was taken down two years ago. Hayward said it is not exactly a replacement for that tree. Instead he was looking for something different.
“I am hoping this tree brings a little more interest to the environment,” Hayward said. “We could have easily planted a red maple or oak or something. A fir is something different to look at as you sit swearing in traffic.”
Hayward also hopes the tree becomes part of one of Watertown’s annual traditions.
“When we took (the Norway Maple) down I came down to listen to people’s conversation to see what they had to say,” Hayward said. “I thought why not get our own Christmas tree. I thought more about community spirit, and it is something a little different than what we have. Maybe people will come and want to learn more about trees.”
Fellow Tree Warden Alex Sherman said that Hayward has been past president of the Massachusetts Tree Wardens and Foresters Association, and he has been helpful.
“Chris is someone I always chat with. There is always something going on in Watertown,” said Sherman, who works for the City of Springfield. “He has given me a lot of advice over the years.”
Along with being Tree Warden, Hayward also serves as Watertown’s Conservation Agent and is in charge of Historical Preservation for the town. However, he said that caring for trees runs in his blood.
“I recently found out the origins of the Hayward name,” he said. “It is English and it means protector of the land and trees.”