Look past the oranges, golds and reds of tree leaves and you’ll find other intense spots of color on campus this fall. Perennials show off in their own way—the royal purples of oak leaf hydrangea, the golden spikes of threadleaf bluestar, the lavender flowers of asters.
Encore azalea ‘Autumn Princess’
A recent newcomer to the world of gardening are Encore azaleas, so-called because they’re repeat bloomers that flower from spring through fall. Several young cultivars are planted out on campus, including this ‘Autumn Princess’ on the west side of the fieldhouse.
Dawn redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides
And even some conifers get into the act. The dawn redwood, a native of China, loses all its needles each fall. But first, the thin needles turn golden brown and shimmer in the late afternoon sun on a November day.
~ Martha Van Artsdalen, plant curator
Dinner decorations in Founders Great Hall.
The word autumn in our part of the world often brings to mind the phrase “bountiful harvest” as in, “time to gather the corn, the beans, the squash” and other plants that we think of as all-American.
But a recent speaker at the annual Arboretum Association dinner in Founders Great Hall gave a glimpse of an autumn lost. An autumn of 200, even just 100, years ago when the variety of vegetables available was mind-boggling.
William Woys Weaver learned to save seeds like his Quaker grandfather before him, long before the word heirloom was linked to a food source. He earned a doctorate in food science and can rattle off the names and pedigrees of thousands of vegetables. Foods that would have been lost if it were not for his non-profit Roughwood Seed Collection.
At Haverford on a recent evening, he spun stories of the sweet Tutelo strawberry corn raised by Native Americans and shared with the Quakers, the fish pepper from the African American community, the Arbogast sugar pea no longer grown in France, South African melons and gluten-free sorghum from Mongolia.
William Woys Weaver autographs his latest book.
While this food historian, author, gardener and epicure has written 16 books and appeared on both Good Morning America and Julia Childs’ cooking show, he sees food as a “cultural artifact” and is passionate about bring back the seeds, and therefore the plants, so these recipes and traditions are not lost.
—Martha Van Artsdalen, plant curator
Now that the scorcher of a summer is behind us, and we’ve had a week of rain, the Arboretum crews are out planting. Fall is a great time to get those shrubs and trees out of their plastic pots and into the ground while the soil is still warm to stimulate root growth and the air is cooler so the plant is under less stress.
Brandon Sickel ’18, left, and horticulturist Mike Startup stake a newly planted swamp white oak along Walton Road behind Stokes Hall.
Filling in an open spot in the allée of trees along Walton Road behind Stokes is a young Quercus bicolor, swamp white oak. Another oak, the bur oak Quercus macrocarpa, has been planted between Leeds Dorm and the Morris Infirmary to replace a tree that was in decline and removed this summer. The latter had been a gift in 1984 to honor John Gummere, class of 1920.
A young bur oak has plenty of room to grow behind Morris Infirmary.
A special tree, the dawn redwood Metasequoia glyptostroboides, now looks out over the Duck Pond from the north side of the skate house. This tree was planted in memory of former Haverford College President John (Jack) Coleman (1967-1977) before his memorial service on October 2.
A new dawn redwood was planted in memory of the late college president, Jack Coleman.
~ Martha Van Artsdalen, plant curator
Opal Bednarik ’19, left, helps Carol Wagner with weeding.
This fall’s bumper crop of student Arboretum workers is now pitching in. With class schedules and athletic practice times in place, we’ve been able to assign work hours for a full complement of students. Each is teamed to assist one of our three horticulturists—Carol Wagner, Charlie Jenkins and Mike Startup.
The first task has been simple: water, water and water again. The weeks of dry and usually hot weather have bumped up the need to water containers and young trees well into fall.
When the weather does cool down, the students will assist in planting spring bulbs, replacing tropicals from summer beds and containers with mums and perennials, and learning how to properly plant a tree.
Then comes the massive chore of raking all those falling leaves off open lawns. If a pause comes in that cleanup process, there will always be weeding!
~ Martha Van Artsdalen
Freshmen move-in day was picture-perfect on Wednesday, August 24. The 357 new ’Fords arrived to begin orientation, traditionally known as Customs Week, several days before the start of classes. Pots of bright mums, delivered by Mike Startup of the Arboretum staff, greeted new students at the freshmen dorms of Barclay, Gummere, Tritton and HCA as upperclassmen helped family members schlep boxes and bags.
Freshmen help plant an Okame cherry tree.
The Arboretum staff also welcomed the Class of 2020 with its traditional tree planting ceremony on Leeds Green the following morning. Students grabbed a shovel and helped plant their class tree, an Okame cherry. Next up, all freshmen will be able to select a plant for their dorm room, courtesy of the Arboretum staff. Look for the table setup in the Dining Center in the next few days….