The Arboretum Report Dec.29th 2015

     The last few days have been cool and rainy. This following the record warmth we have experienced for most of December has some of the Arboretums plants and animals confused. I was watching the flock of Robins that normally this time of year are rather pleasant with each other and some were chasing and bickering. This behavior is usually seen in the spring when they are competing for nest sites and mates. The flower buds of the Quince plants are starting to swell and show a bit of color. The regular season for this is late winter. Fortunately the 10 day forecast is for the temperatures to return to normal with highs in the 40’s and lows around 30 degrees.

     Due to the wet weather the vernal pond is about half full. If conditions return closer to normal the pond should be moist for most of the winter. This is good for birds to bath and drink. A wet pond indicates that the moisture level in the ground is sufficient for the plants. Check out this post’s photo – Pond. Notice the green grass beyond the pond. Let’s hope it doesn’t need to be cut soon.

     One benefit of the mild weather has been I have made more than expected progress in controlling some of the Japanese Honeysuckle on the grounds. The honeysuckle leaves stay green after most of the plants it is climbing on have gone dormant. So you can spray Round-Up, an herbicide to knock back the invasive plant while not hurting the host. A major advantage of this timing is that the amphibians to which the herbicide is toxic are hibernating and not harmed.

     Winter chores coming up include as much small tree management as can be accomplished. Turning more of this past year’s tree damage into firewood. Of which there is plenty available. Hopefully some snow clean up and hopefully not too much. There is one day of major tree work approved. It would be nice if that is all we need. Though it seems the Arboretum usually decides what need attention.

Tom Kirk

Arboretum Manager