During these long days of summer, visitors to Marquand Park can enjoy the sultry white flowers of several trees and shrubs blooming now. At dusk, white flowers seem to glow in the evening light. Here’s what’s in bloom this week:
Stewartia koreana, Korean Stewartia – Past the Wisteria arbor on the right. Many flowers knocked off during last week’s storm but many still coming.
Hydrangea quercifolia, Oakleaf Hydrangea – at peak bloom near the baseball diamond.
Oxydendrum arboretum, Sorrel Tree – Just coming into bloom by Stockton Street.
Magnolia grandiflora ‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty’, Southern Magnolia – tucked behind the other Magnolias on Magnolia Hill near Stockton Street. You can smell it as you get close.
To celebrate Arbor Day, eastern redbud trees were planted on the grounds of schools in Princeton in the final two weeks of April. Every year, these celebrations are spearheaded by our town arborist Lorraine Konopka and the Shade Tree Commission of Princeton. Ms Konopka explained how trees are planted and being cared for. Marquand Park bookmarks with information and pictures of the Easter redbud tree were handed out to students participating in the festivities. More bookmarks can be found in the tree library of the park in the coming weeks.
A new tree was planted at Marquand Park yesterday by David and Robert Wells along with help from Andy Sutphin. This was a 4.5 inch caliper red oak (Quercus rubra) that is 16 feet high and was planted along the north side of the back path leading to Mercer Street. It is a replacement tree for the huge red oak that was removed in 2014 in this same location. A cross sectional slice of the trunk of that tree may be seen next to the bulletin board near the parking lot. At the time that it died it was 110 years old and over 100 feet tall. Likely, it died from an infestation of Bacterial Leaf Scorch that was exacerbated by the drought of the summer of 2010. By the time of the 2013 inventory and assessment it was in very poor condition with more than 50% of the crown dead and presented a significant public hazard as many of those limbs overhung the walkway. The new tree was transplanted as a bare root tree using a technique of compressed air the blows away the soil around the roots without damaging them. A tree of this size transplanted in the conventional manner of digging out an earthen ball would have weighed over 1,000 pounds and been six feet wide by three feet deep. On a residential landscape installation, it would have cost $4,500. Without the soil the tree weighed approximately 250 pounds and was moved in 8 man hours with the rental of the compressor for $185 being the only expense.
The new red oak is a gift from David Wells, the owner of Wells Tree and Landscape, who is a Board-Certified Master Arborist and a New Jersey Certified Tree Expert. Wells Tree & Landscape is a firm that I started in July of 1973 and passed on to Dave in 2010. Additionally, he is the incoming President of the New Jersey Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture. The oak was presented to Dave as a seedling in June of 2006 at his graduation from The School of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University. It is a long-standing tradition that red oak seedlings are presented to each graduate of that school when they receive their diploma. This was even more special in that Dave was a Teacher’s Assistant to the Dendrology class that collected all the acorns that were then grown up in the campus greenhouse to become the seedlings that were given away that year. The red oak is the State tree of New Jersey and all the acorns were collected from the trees that line the roadway in front of the Administration Building on campus. I was presented with a similar red oak at my graduation from there in 1985 and planted it on the east side of the Veblen House on Herrontown Road where it now has grown to be a mature 45-foot specimen. My dendrology professor and mentor in those days was Dr. John Kuser who brought us on field trips to Marquand Park which he described as “one of the finest arboreta in New Jersey”. As luck would have it, John Clark who holds the Leopold Chair of Environmental Science at Lawrenceville School and son of our much-loved Dr. Charles Clark, happened by as did Annette Merle Smith while we were planting. It was a fine moment to be planting the new generation of Marquand red oak with my son, the new generation of arborist, as my wife Loretta, and my pal Andy helped to raise it into place. For a moment, I thought I caught a glimpse of Doc Kuser watching us from the woods and smiling – I know that he would approve.
To read the QR codes on the tree signs in the park, you must have a smartphone equipped with a camera and a QR code reader app. If you do not have already this app download a QR code reader/scanner app. It is easy and most QR readers are free. Open the app and center the QR code within the square outline on the screen. Try to steady your hand while you center the QR code in the square. Depending on the app you use, the page linked to the URL stored in the QR code or directions to open the link to the page will show on the screen of your phone. The page has information on the tree you are looking at.
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