Monthly Archives: April 2013

113th Arbor Day

The weather could not have been better.  Friday was Arbor Day in our part of the country and the Arboretum carried out a tree planting ceremony for the 113th time.  Faculty, students, staff and retirees turned out to take part and receive a plant dividend.

Last summer a massive red oak that graced the south west corner of Barclay Hall had to be relieved of its duties.  We believe the oak was planted soon after the completion of Barclay in 1878.  The tree’s shade and ultimate maturity was enjoyed for more than a century.  The Arboretum chose a Japanese umbrella-pine, Sciadopitys verticillata to be planted in the area of the old oak.   Arboretum Director, Bill Astifan and Horticulturist, Carol Wagner both addressed the participants and everyone pitched in by putting a shovel of soil in the hole.

Haverford’s trees serve a thankless role.  Their presence is quiet and comforting.  Trees planted as the last stones of Founders were being laid stand side by side with the newest kid on the block.

Arbor Day 2013IMG_2159


Where the Grickle Grass grows

the Lorax IMG_2061 IMG_2068 IMG_2077 IMG_2090There are no Truffula trees in the famed Arboretum collection of species.  However, each year on Earth Day the Lorax visits Haverford College to make sure the old Once-ler is not creeping about.

Earth Day celebrations began this year in the Duck Pond meadow.  Students, faculty and neighbors joined in to assist the horticulturists planting hundreds of native plants.  Once the hands were sufficiently dirty, the activities migrated west to the front of Founders.  For the last five years I’ve been reading the story of The Lorax by Dr. Suess.  The participants enjoyed the sun-warmed front steps as I settled in to a rocking chair for the reading.  Music, frisbees and food kept people on the great lawn well in to the afternoon.

Thanks to the Arboretum for supplying a popcorn machine, the Earth Quakers for cookies and clementines and the 8th Dimension.  Thanks to the Arboretum student workers as well as everyone else involved.

Every day is Earth Day!

Potting Pansies

Last Sunday was a beautiful day.  Jeanne Quinn ’16, a volunteer student worker for the Arboretum office and Arboretum Director, Bill Astifan stationed themselves at a busy intersection between the Dinning Center and Founders.  In an effort to promote the up coming Earth Day events and bring awareness to the Arboretum, Jeanne and Bill assisted passers-by with potting a pansy for their windowsill and sold Arboretum t-shirts.

Earth Day on campus will be celebrated on Monday, April 22. The perennial favorite popcorn machine will be on hand!  Here are the day’s events:

10:30am – Horticulturist, Carol Wagner will give interested students and faculty a half hour walking tour of center campus.

11:00am-1pm – The sixth year of planting native plants in the Duck Pond meadow is always a favorite of students and faculty.

1pm – I will be reading the story of The Lorax by Dr. Suess on Founders front porch.  Make sure you bring fifteen cents, a nail and the shell of a great-great-great grandfather snail!



Another Yellow Shrub

Yes, but it is much more than that.  Stachyurus praecox, commonly called Spiketail, is one of those shrubs that are not often encountered in gardens and can easily be overlooked in the wash of everything yellow this time of year.  The small flowers hang from the stem on 4-5 inch racemes.  They are formed in the fall of the previous year and stay exposed all winter.  For us they have fully opened in this second week in April.  The shrub on campus is located at the top of the walk approaching the GIAC.  It is planted in combination with Cornus ‘Mid Winter Fire’, a nice orange-apricot colored red stemmed dogwood.

The Arboretum obtained this plant as a gift from local friend Sue Langer.  At the time, about 6 years ago the plant was outgrowing its space in her garden.  My colleagues and I dug the plant and transported it to its current location on campus.  Now, it has adjusted well to life in the arboretum and is reaching a height of  9 ft x 6 ft.

There is not much in the way of aroma, it disappears as greenery through the summer and fall color is ho-hum yellow.  I know this is not a beaming endorsement but grow the plant for its uniqueness and wonderful spring flowers.

Everything yellow is not a forsythia!


Stachyurus praecox, Spike tail