The Arboretum Report April 6, 2017

     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. 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.

The Arboretum Report February 10, 2017


     Well the wacky weather continues. Two days ago, it was 65 degrees and sunny. Yesterday we had some light snow in the morning followed by some fierce winds. Some of the gust were up to 50 mph. Today there is still a light snow cover and the temperature probably won’t go above freezing. Tomorrow the projected high for the day is 50 degrees. Let’s hope that “Wacky” does not become the new “Normal”.


     When the winds are sustained above 30mph we usually shut the Arboretum gates. During high winds being under the trees is not a good idea. When the trees start to dance in the wind I get a chill. If for some reason, I am in the woods and wind picks up I get scared and hurry out of there. Thankfully there was only a little damage to the trees from yesterday’s storm.


     The planned tree work was completed by Knight Brother’s Tree Service. The Oak in front of the building received a nice pruning. Dead and dying branches were removed and thee tree lightly thinned. No branches were stubbed back as this is detrimental to oaks and most trees. We also had some medium sized Ash and Cherry trees removed. They were planted by birds and growing in places where they could not mature properly. All the work was done safely and efficiently.


     February 18th the Delaware County Master Gardeners will be here to plant cool season vegetable seeds. Broccoli, cabbage, kale, collards and others will be part of the 1500 seeds to plant. They will be started in our greenhouse. When ready, they will be potted up into 4 or 6 packs and grown on here or at the Gardener’s polyhouse at Smedley Park. Then they will be available to Delaware County residents for a small donation. Details to be announced later.


     On the nicer days, we have been making some progress removing invasive plants from the East Woods. Honeysuckle, Multiflora rose and Privet are infesting the understory. We separate them from the native trees and shrubs, then chop up the debris with our Gravely Brush Hog. When the spring growth starts, we will choose which plants to discourage and which to encourage. This decision is one we frequently have to make.


Tom Kirk


Arborertum Manager.