We are expecting heavy rains today. If we receive an inch or two, the amount of precipitation will be about average for the year. After many months of below-normal rainfall, this is a relief. The plants usually have a better growing season when there is adequate moisture in the beginning.
The spring flowers are starting their show. Due to the cool March, some of the earlier flowers were held back. The Saucer Magnolias’ flower buds were frozen in the snow and ice storm a few weeks ago. The newer Star Magnolias fared better and are still blooming. Our biggest showoff, the Yoshino Cherry is looking great, but the storm today will finish off most of these flowers. Shortly the early azaleas will be showing color. From now through the end of May you can visit the Arboretum and see different plants blooming every week.
Up until the before mentioned storm, there had been little winter damage to the trees. During the storm, I was surprised to hear what I thought were gunshots. Quickly I realized the sounds came from the breaking of White Pine branches under the weight of the ice. No trees were lost. We have a day of tree work scheduled to clean up the grounds.
The wood frogs returned to the vernal pond. There was a warm spell in mid-February and they awoke from hibernation. The pond would have been dry, but we pumped water from the creek to provide the moisture they need to breed. About 75 frogs participated. Here is a you-tube link that we recorded. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWvKG2iz3hI. The recent rains have kept the pond filled naturally. Toads and peepers are singing their mating songs. Hopefully there will be a strong tadpole population this season.
The arboretum’s transition into the Widener University system is going well. Students from the Communications Studies Department helped put together the wood frog link and are continuing work on a public outreach project for us. The Widener Outdoor Adventure Club helped with the early spring cleanup of the front flower beds. The arboretum participated in a sustainability seminar on campus last month. We are looking forward to increased visits from both Widener students and staff – for both study and pleasure.