As part of the Class of 2018 Customs Week and the Arboretum’s tradition of planting a freshman tree with the class, last Thursday turned out to be a beautiful day. Before the campus was busy with the full student body, an Okame cherry tree, Prunus ‘Okame’ was planted along the walk from the sundial steps to the track. This tree will join the ranks of an eight tree allee. Four nondedicated cherries and three freshman class trees from, 2010, 2015 and 2017 in the allee, make for a stunning early April tunnel of pink blossoms.
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Welcome to the Class of 2018, returning ‘Fords, faculty and staff.
The Arboretum invites all 18s to assist in planting your Freshman tree. This year an Okame Cherry will be planted in your honor by the playground on Leeds green. The time for planting is 9:30am, Thursday August 28th.
The Arboretum staff will again plant themselves in the DC for its 27th Annual Freshman plant giveaway and plant sale. You will see us there Tuesday through Thursday, September 2,3,4 th from 9am-2pm. All 1st years will receive a free house (dorm) plant. We will again have larger plants for faculty, staff and students to purchase for $12.00.
You’ll see the Arboretum and Grounds crew out mowing, weeding, planting trees, raking leaves and hopefully not shovelling snow ! Be sure to say , “Hello”.
Enjoy a few images from the previous year and you’ll see what a wonderful treasure Haverford is.
Haverford’s Pinetum is home to a diverse collection of conifers; that is a plant that bears cones. The Pinetum was planted in the late 1920s and the arboretum staff continues to add new species and young specimens to maintain a varied and distinct collection. You can experience twenty different types of pine trees in the Pinetum. Just last week we added the twentieth species, Pinus glabra. Commonly called cedar pine, Walter pine, or bottom white pine, the tree is native to the lower coastal plain states of the southeastern US. and not common in cultivation. Characteristically, pines will not thrive in periodic wet conditions or shade, Pinus glabra will. Most sources suggest its hardiness in zones 7-9. Haverford is listed as zone 6b, not far off considering global warming! With the help of our summer students, three of these trees were planted on the upper portion toward Swan Field.
Let me thank our students in this forum as their enthusiasm and good natured approach they brought to work every day made the summer more tolerable. They are Josh Servellon Class of 2014, Alex Love and Michael DeWolf Class of 2015 and Bethany Simmonds and Miwa Wenzel, Class of 2016. thanks guys and I’ll see you when the semester starts.
Three great things happened today.
1. I’ll bet a lot of you didn’t know today is the International Day of Happiness. www.timeanddate.com/holidays/un/happiness-day#obs
2. It is of course, the first day of Spring.
3. We planted containers around campus today with pansies.
After the second snowiest winter on record, we are all ready for Spring. Thanks to these smiling faces, we can put winter behind us. (fingers crossed?)
What a beautifully dangerous day this February 5th was. It started sleeting in the midnight hour, the College lost power in the neighborhood of 4am and seamlessly continues to operate on generator backup. The Grounds and Arboretum crews set out at 5am to attempt a salting and sanding mission on walks and roads. As the weather worsened, even we were called back to the facilities garage to keep us safe from the constant breaking of our treasured trees. Classes were cancelled mid morning. By 11am we set forth to assess the tree damage as best we could. The list we were generating was fluid as limbs continued to giveway under the burden of heavy snow from a few days earlier and the accumulated ice of the day. The sound of popping wood and limbs crashing to the ground could be heard throughout campus all day. A heart wrenching sound.
Please enjoy this haiku sent to me from two of my Arboretum student workers Abby Fullem and Adriana Cvitkovic both Class of 2016.
Wintry mix from hell
Ice weighs down hearts and branches
We mourn for the trees.
thanks ladies, we do mourn for the trees
The in car thermometer read 2 degrees as I pulled onto the campus this morning. It is the kind of cold that goes right to the bone, no matter what you wear. The grounds and arboretum crews were on campus at 6am this morning treating the icy patches with a mix of rock salt and sand. The wind chill was in the -15 to -20 degree range while the actual air temperature hovered two clicks above zero. There isn’t much the rock salt does except melt then quickly refreeze. That’s where the sand comes in handy. When the two are applied jointly, the sand is bonded to the ice in the short time between thawing and refreezing. Due to the high winds, putting down only sand, it would have simply blown away.
Unfortunately today, the Arboretum witnessed the removal of a large American elm, Ulmus americana in front of the Dining Center. The tree had been in decline for a number of years and in the fall of 2013 following further evaluation was deemed a hazard and scheduled for takedown over winter break. Last summer you may remember a very large major limb of the tree broke lose on a beautifully calm day. The tree is situated along a heavily travelled thoroughfare. Students pass under the tree multiple times a day going to the dining center. Blue Bus travelers come to the Haverford campus from Bryn Mawr College and have enjoyed it’s shade while passing under. Rather than risking the tree breaking free and doing serious harm to any members of the community, a tough decision had to be made.
Today the Arboretum’s tree contractor, John B. Ward Tree Company was on campus to gently bring down the tree. The crew braved the bitter cold and wind disarming the threat of a catastrophe. The Arboretum will replace in kind the American elm soon in the same vicinity.
The chill of the day has eased out of my bones as I write this and the forecast for tomorrow is for a balmy 26 degrees. Enjoy the heat wave.
The structure of a garden and the movements of a
ballet are not that all dissimilar. This thought comes
to my mind, I must admit, during our family’s annual
overdose of the Nutcracker Ballet. My daughter’s five
years of classes prepared her sufficiently to perform in
the Brandywine Ballet Company’s holiday performances.
We attended two live performances of hers and
watched many more on television.
Imagine Tchaikovsky’s score without the ballet; the
music can stand alone. Our gardens in winter, I argue, are like Tchaikovsky’s
music. Always present, the woody plant material,
hardscape and structural elements are the bones of the
garden. The ballet dancers will arrive in spring and dance
their way through the growing season.
Without the superfluous adornments of annuals and
perennials, more attention can be given to the exposed
site. My favorite winter-blooming shrub wintersweet,
Chimonanthus praecox, takes center stage early in winter.
Then there is a long list of wonderfully-colored stems,
bark and berries. Indoors, forced bulbs, starting with
the paperwhite narcissus, are a great treat. Outdoors,
containers are a simple way to augment your garden. Keep
in mind that terra-cotta pots should not be used because
they run the risk of cracking from the cold. There are
attractive resin, concrete or plastic containers perfectly
suitable for freezing temperatures. When choosing plants
for your winter container, they should be hardy to a full
zone colder, which would be zone 5b for us at Haverford.
Simply not clear-cutting all perennials to the ground
creates interest. Sedums, ornamental grasses, purple cone
flowers and the like provide food and shelter for birds.
They also gracefully hold light amounts of snow. Branches
of quince, cherry and forsythia can be brought indoors for
forcing. A good rule of thumb is to allow at least six weeks
of natural chilling before cutting.
A reliable old narcissus for the garden is ‘February Gold.’
It will brighten up things on the heels of your snowdrops.
Then annuals and perennials will pirouette their way in
and out of bloom from the early spring barrenwort to late
So, until the well-rested ballerinas return to the stage
in spring, just listen. Use the upcoming quiet months to
enjoy the music.
The frost was barely on the pumpkins this fall. As I write this, Mother Nature looks to be giving us a foretaste of the winter to come. Early snow squalls like this make for some beautiful juxtapositions. Many of the trees and shrubs are hanging on to spectacular color while the white stuff is sifted upon them like flour. I am not a fan of the white stuff, it means shovelling for hours on end. If you remember a few years back we were treated to a white trick or treat.
It doesn’t happen very often, in fact, only thirteen times since 1833. This Saturday, Dr. Dan Weiss will be inaugurated as Haverford College’s 14th President. The Grounds and Arboretum crews have been busy making the joint presentable. The entire campus community has been hard at work preparing for this very busy weekend on campus. Not only is the inauguration happening, it is also Family and Friends Weekend and a Board of Managers meeting.
Lots for us to do: mowing, weeding, edging, collecting the steady stream of leaves that look so beautiful on the trees but are troublesome on the lawns and changing out our flower beds and containers for the fall. Below are a few images of the work in progress by the Grounds and Arboretum crews.
Congratulations Dr. Weiss !