The Arboretum Report March 17, 2015

As sure as the swallows return to Capistrano the frogs have returned to the vernal pond. Two days ago the Wood Frogs and Spring Peepers emerged from their winter havens in the woods. They burrow under logs and spend the time in deep hibernation. They can even freeze and thaw without damage. For the next couple of weeks they will mate and lay eggs in the pond. Soon American Toads will join the fun. The eggs will hatch into tadpoles in about a month. The tadpoles will turn into frogs by early June. Then they leave the pond area and spread out around the grounds. Populations of frogs and toads are in decline in many places. It is nice that we have a healthy spot for them.

We have just finished cutting down the remains of lasts year’s growth in the native meadow. This is a task we do every late winter. The mowing helps control unwanted plant species and prevents the meadow from progressing to forest. The meadow stage which would naturally be caused by fire is very important in providing habitat for insect pollinators that in turn become food for many of the birds. After the meadow starts to regrow, random paths will be cut thru for the visitor to explore.

At the western edge of the Native Meadow there is half of a large ash tree on the ground. In the last ice storm the weight of the ice and snow spread the two leads apart and water got in between them. The water froze and the trunk cracked. The crew from Knight Bros. Inc. responded promptly and took the dangerous lead down. If this part of the tree was not removed it would have fallen shortly after the tree leafed out. Dangerous because you can never predict precisely when it will happen and probably deadly to the whole tree.

Well there is plenty to do this time of year. Some jobs you know are coming up like cutting the grass and weed whacking. Other like taking down the dangerous ash lead are surprises. Either way it will be busy.

Tom Kirk

Arboretum Manager