Trees Live in Exeter

When an invitation was received by our garden club from RiverWoods Retirement Community in Exeter to join residents for a Arbor Day ribbon cutting ceremony for their new arboretum, several of our members jumped at the occasion. There’s no better way to share our love of trees than attending an Arbor Day event, especially the newest and largest arboretum in New Hampshire.

Despite cool temperatures and overcast skies, the event put us in a sunny and festive mood. We were greeted with champagne, a smorgasbord of treats, enthusiastic sharing at the microphone from employees and residents …. including poems for the occasion.

RiverWoods 2017

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Several residents of RiverWoods have been active for years in selecting, planting, nurturing, and labeling trees and woody shrubs on the property so becoming accredited through ArbNet, an Arboretum Accrediation Program developed by The Morton Arboretum, was a natural step. RiverWoods is a Level One arboretum, meaning they must have at least 25 species of documented trees. Already at 49 species, the volunteers and staff have hopes to achieve Level Two with at least 100 species of woody plants, along with other criteria.

From the ribbon cutting, we progressed to the walking tour in The Ridge campus where we were led by knowledgeable docent volunteers. Fran Peters introduced us to a number of trees, including the Franklin Tree (Franklinia alatamaha), named for Benjamin Franklin. It has a reputation for being difficult to grow but this specimen tree is very healthy. I must return to see the magnificent blooms it’s known for.

Fran Parker, RiverWoods 2017

Our group continued along led by docent Liz Bacon (l.), who came to RiverWoods from the Chicago area bringing knowledge from the Morton Arboretum. It is she who recognized the potential for a RiverWoods arboretum. Dr. Tom Adams (r.), who has worked with the trees and woody shrubs of RiverWoods for a dozen years, shared his enthusiasm and wisdom with fun tidbits about the trees and gardens including successes and loses over time. His knowledge stems from his volunteer association with the Arnold Arboretum in Boston.

Liz Bacon, Tom Adams

The one tree I fell for was the showy Golden Maple (Acer shirasawanum ‘aureum’), a small Japanese maple with lime colored leaves. In the fall, it turns an orange and red like a sugar maple. Yummy!

Golden Maple

Our garden club members thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon at RiverWoods and we are proud and happy to have the largest arboretum in the state right here in Exeter NH. Way to go, RiverWoods!

“Advice From A Tree” by Ilan Shamir

Stand tall and proud.
Go out on a limb.
Remember your roots.
Drink plenty of water.
Be content with your natural beauty.
Enjoy the view.

Read by Dan Burbank, RiverWoods Landscape Manager

Exeter River

Exeter River February 2017

Exeter has been upgraded from last summer’s Extreme Drought to a Severe Drought. And thanks to winter rain and snow, the Exeter River is flowing at near normal levels. It is a beautiful sight and still draws folks to marvel at the free flowing river after the removal of the dam.

Exeter River

Temperatures are beginning to rise and we hope it’s a slow warming trend. Exeter now needs the ground to thaw enough to absorb some of the snow melt as it takes longer for groundwater levels to recover. Water restrictions are still in place and residents are urged to monitor their water use.

Save

For the birds…

It has been an extreme few weeks in New England that has brought us over 40″ of snow in our area of New Hampshire. Today the snow is coming down steady again… enough that the snowplows have cleared our drive 4 times! We always feed the birds but during severe weather we step up our support as natural food supplies are difficult to find. We have trenches and we shovel out to refill feeders twice a day. The snow is as light as ivory flakes so the shoveling isn’t strenuous. And, amazingly, it’s full of tunnels where the squirrels are searching for wayward birdseed. They pop up here and there like Whac-A-Mole game.

trenchThe familiar backyard avian crew frequents our feeders… just in greater numbers in this weather. The black-capped chickadees, the white-breasted nuthatches, tufted titmice, and tons of American goldfinch, pine siskins, and purple finches dine on the tube feeder and the covered bluebird feeder. The noisy finches that number in the twenties also monopolize the nyjer seed feeder.

finches on nyjer sock

American Goldfinches

Northern cardinals, mourning doves, a handful of blue jays, white-throated sparrows and a few other sparrows, a large number of dark-eyed juncos, a common redpoll or two, American finches and pine siskins hop around atop the snow for the seeds we scatter.

.
Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

junco..

Dark-eyed Junco

Red-bellied woodpeckers, Hairy and Downy woodpeckers, white-breasted nuthatches, the chickadees and titmice go through the suet in no time.

.
chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

 

Female P. Finch

Female Purple Finches

 

Pine Siskin

 

The avian activity provides a lot of excitement and entertainment at our house. Breakfast, lunch, and dinnertime at our table are hives of activity at the window feeder. We enjoy watching the shy, the gregarious, the bullies, the bold, the eat-and-run birds, the noisy, and the birds that like to watch us watching them.

.
At least it’s a leisurely hobby that you can enjoy from the comfort and warmth of your home… unlike some of our neighbors who must wait for the snowplow to clear enough snow so their animal friends can have a little recreation. Brrrr….
.
Cindy and pup

Hello World…

Happy Day to you, Earth! There will be the annual party for you today on the National Mall where citizens will rally for your protection to the music of numerous bands and the words of many speakers. And worldwide, over a billion people will bond with voices and commitments on this 2012 Earth Day and call upon everyone to do their part for a sustainable future. In this household as in many others, we celebrate Earth Day daily but it is important to come together once a year to recognize your gifts to all who depend on you for life.

In a small way, I’ve celebrated this time of year by giving and planting trees to schools, clubs or communities, first for Arbor Day, then after 1970, for Earth Day. In 2004, those trees were gifted to mark another occasion… Andy’s Earth Day in Williamsburg, Virginia. On Greensprings Trail in 2004, over 100 friends and family members gathered that year to recognize and honor the life of my nephew, an Eagle Scout, Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corps graduate and Biology major at Christopher Newport University, who tragically lost his life in a canoe accident the previous year. We gathered to clean the trails, rake, pick up debris, and plant native trees and flowers on the trail where Andrew helped make the signage and gave nature tours to youngsters, for he loved nothing better than to pass on knowledge, the appreciation of nature and environmental awareness. At the end of the day, family and a few friends migrated to Geddy Park in Williamsburg, the site of Andrew’s Eagle Scout project, to clean and plant in that park setting.

Since that time, the annual Andy’s Earth Day has continued. A spur trail from the Greensprings Trail now spills into a clearing near Jamestown Settlement onto an archaeological site of the historic Church on the Main, a site excavated by Andrew’s father, archaeologist Alain Outlaw. The site, protected by Williamsburg Land Conservancy, is where the annual Andy’s Earth Day takes place. Boy Scout Troop 103 spends the weekend cleaning and maintaining, adding paths, planting trees, and earning merit badges…. rain or shine! There is no better way to build a deeper awareness and convert ideas into habits than starting with the young.

I’m in New England now but I still feel the energy from Andrew and Andy’s Earth Day as I kneel to plant new life in these New Hampshire gardens. Let’s hope the many who stand together today can channel that energy into action, perhaps joining with a Billion Acts of Green… or in a more personal way… today and the other 364 days of the year.

Nightmare On My Street

At first they looked insignificant and harmless but these plants were really the devil in disguise. Like those really bad reptilian creatures with sharp teeth and claws who rampaged a town in the 1984 horror movie, Gremlins, I am currently under attack by a weed…. a devil weed, a dangerous villain, a Gremlin. It’s Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), a biennial plant in the Mustard family. Native to Europe, it is thought to have been brought to America in the 1860s as a culinary herb and indeed, it is edible.

Garlic_Mustard_close_800

The small rosettes of leaves appeared among my roses and lavender several years ago. I pulled up tons without recognizing the weed until successive years when the plant had matured into tall shoots, competing with the lavender, then moving on to other borders . Each year, I weed and weed and I think I’ve gotten it under control but when I turn my back, it multiplies as fast as those little Gremlins that terrorized an entire community.

It is a destructive invasive plant that is controlled best by hand-pulling before the plant goes to seed. Each mature plant can produce over a thousand seeds and once it produces seeds, it can become so prolific that it is difficult to eradicate. When it’s introduced into a new environment, it can aggressively spread into woodlands where it out-competes native plants and flowers that insects depend upon for life. The West Virginia White Butterfly (Pieris virginiensis) and the Mustard White Butterfly (Pieris oleracea) that lay eggs on Toothwort plants are choosing to lay eggs on Garlic Mustard which has proved toxic to both the eggs and larvae. The plant also produces toxins that suppress the mycorrhizal fungi that plants require for growth.

The plant has no natural enemies. For very heavy infestations where risks to desirable plants is at a minimum, applications of systemic herbicide glyphosate can be effective.  Since the seeds remain viable for five years in the soil, diligent monitoring is important. After weeding, do not compost this weed as the plant can germinate in the compost bed.

Wish me luck.

PS: I uploaded the wrong photo. I moved and now I live in New Hampshire. Wikipedia supplied the photo of Garlic Mustard for this post.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

Power of the People

Tea fields of Kericho

Tea fields of Kericho

In 2007, the Lipton Tea company announced its pledge to harvest tea leaves using only sustainable farming methods. The company joined forces with Rainforest Alliance, an organization dedicated to biodiversity, protecting wildlife habitats, conservation of water and soil, and the well-being of workers. The Lipton Tea estate in Kericho, Kenya, was the first estate to be certified by the Rainforest Alliance in 2007 as a model of sustainability. By 2015, Lipton pledges that all of its tea leaves around the world will come from sustainable farming and ethical systems.

For the past 55 years, Lipton’s largest teabag production facility in the U.S. has been located in Suffolk VA.  The company imports tea from 25 countries and makes 6-billion tea bags a year. In 2008, the company began an environmental campaign of their own. Plant manager Ted Narozny revealed that this was an employee driven quest for local company sustainability. Over 70 ideas poured forth leading to a gold medal award in 2009 from the governor of Virginia in cooperation with Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, DuPont Corporation and Dominion Virginia.

Suffolk’s Lipton plant has been declared a Zero Landfill facility, no easy feat in this day and age. 70% of the company’s waste products is recycled or reused, 22% is composted and the final eight percent is reused. A bonus for the company’s efforts, they estimate their achievements have saved the facility a whopping $100,000 a year… which they reinvested in more energy savings in the building.

At the Garden Club of Virginia’s 52nd Annual Conservation Forum this month, Ted Narozny accepted for the Lipton facility, the club’s Elizabeth Cabell Dugdale Award for Meritorious Achievement in Conservation.  A conservation award first presented by club in 1974, it is presented to an organization, industry or an individual who is not a GCV member for outstanding work in conservation. As I listened to Mr. Narozny praise the employees of his company for their commitment to reducing the facility’s environmental impact, I was inspired by the resourcefulness and the might that individuals who join forces can generate. They’ve led Suffolk’s facility to produce the greenest tea of all.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

The Wild and Wonderful Dragon

Wild and wonderful could describe both the Dragon Run and the enthusiastic woman who led several folks on a Saturday morning outing through trails owned by the Friends of Dragon Run, the non-profit group that supports the woodlands, swamp and stream.

Vivacious and enthusiastic, Teta Kain is energized by the pristine watershed that feeds the 40 miles of the Dragon Run stream, emptying into the Piankatank River and eventually the Chesapeake Bay. She’s a naturalist, a wildlife photographer, a bird enthusiast, a butterfly expert, a writer, and a self-professed lover of ‘critters’ that inhabit our world.  I have been fortunate enough to hear several of her talks, kayak the Dragon with her and now I have experienced the passion she has for the flora along the trails in this unspoiled wilderness, a rare ecosystem that the Smithsonian Institution ranked second in ecological significance in a study of 232 significant areas of 12,600 square miles of the Chesapeake Bay region.

Teta with her friend, Kohl, show us how to ID a mushroom using a mirror.

The Nature Conservancy, the Virginia Department of Forestry, and Friends of Dragon Run have partnered to protect the watershed but the Friends of Dragon Run provides the only access to the area for kayaking and hiking. It also provides guided tours on both to view and study the flora and fauna. Although there are posts along the trails that identify American hornbeam, mockernut hickory, bald cypress, devils walkingstick, possumhaw, fetterbush, partridgeberry, spotted wintergreen, and flowers with names like Elephant’s foot, we would not have learned all we did without Teta who would easily drop to the ground with a mirror to teach us to identify mushrooms by reflecting the differences in the gills to us, who pointed out the small differences in species of ferns, who could identify spiders and butterflies, fungus and Lycopodiums and even our feathered friends that inhabit the wilderness.

It is refreshing to know such a dedicated volunteer like Teta who is committed to teaching and protecting the unique ecosystem of Dragon Run, hoping to light a fire under others.  The future of the Dragon as a wild and wonderful watershed is not guaranteed. Development always threatens.  Let’s hope the Dragon can remain pristine and vital.  Pssst…. You could help! The Friends of Dragon Run does accept tax deductible donations to further conservation, education and protection of the watershed. Want to know more? Check it out: www.dragonrun.org.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester