The Princeton Library has a new initiative for families and children to explore the great outdoors. Families can now check out a backpack loaded with information about parks and open spaces around Princeton. The backpack also includes a compass, binoculars, magnifying glass, New Jersey pocket field guides, nature log and more. The Marquand Park Foundation has included a guide with the location of some of its signature trees and a bookmark featuring the Little Free Library. The backpacks are available for check out at the Youth Services information desk.
By Evie Timberlake
Marquand Park is fortunate to have a tunnel-shaped structure believed to be of the 1800s. Except that the entrance door was probably smaller and likely enlarged to accommodate changing needs over time, the mysterious structure still retains the appearance and integrity it had for the past 200 years. Built into a bank just past the Japanese maple, the building currently is used as a storage shed.
Its original purpose is uncertain, but on a 1917 hand-drawn map of Guernsey Hall the building is listed as an ice house. It appears next to the lily pond (circled on the map) which probably froze in winter and may have been the source of the ice or it may have been delivered from Princeton Ice Company, now Mountain Lakes Preserve**. The lily pond no longer exists but landscape is indelible, and you can still see the dip in the ground where it once was. An opening, which could have been used as an ice chute, is visible in the interior ceiling vault. Two of Eleanor Marquand’s grandchildren remember the building as an ice house and a root cellar, recalling “In the days before refrigerators, people would store large blocks of ice insulated with layers of sawdust in root cellars. Then in winter, the same places would become storage places for veggies like beets and potatoes.”
** To read/see more about ice delivery history in Princeton go visit the Mountain Lakes Preserve on Meadow Road
Groundbreaking work on a Children’s Arboretum next to the parking lot is completed and its grand opening took place on April 27. The Children’s Arboretum will be a place where children between the ages of 5 and 15 can learn through hands-on experiences how trees grow.
Activities will include: planting saplings in raised planting boxes in the spring; caring for these trees during the summer; and transplanting the trees in early fall to other sites in the park. Children may choose to take their tree home and find a special place for it in their yard. The arboretum will be open during regular park hours. Parents will be asked to supervise their children while visiting the arboretum.
The arboretum has a 6′ fence consisting of pressure-treated wooden posts with galvanized coated wiring supported by horizontal wood framing. The fence is intended to provide some protection from the deer. A decorative gate has been installed on the north side of the arboretum. The whole area inside the arboretum will be covered with a weed barrier ground cover and then covered with wood chips. Four planting boxes will be used for planting the trees. A table resting on the tree trunk of an English yew (part of the tree is still standing) can be used by kids for writing and drawing. A young magnolia tree is the another tree growing in the children’s arboretum.
When Pamela Machold joined the Marquand Park Foundation in the early 1970ties, she decided to use her artistic talents and create pen drawings of two of her favorite trees in the park. Her picture of the threadleaf Japanese maple became later the logo of the Marquand Park Foundation and Pam’s rendition of the cedar of Lebanon shows, better than any photograph, the majestic silhouette of this famous old tree. It is used as a wallpaper background on the Marquand Park website.
The Marquand Park Board in those days was working on a new tree map of the park and had decided for the first time in its existence to add a small guide with short descriptions of the plant species. Roland Machold and Ramsay Raymond were responsible for writing up the descriptions for this Guide to Marquand Park, which was dedicated to Mary Marquand Hochschild who had supported the park for many years and was still living at Marquand House bordering the north-east side of the park.
Aware of Pam’ s unique drawing skills, the Board determined they had a true artist in their midst, and she would be just the right person to compliment the botanical descriptions in the guide with illustrations highlighting the characteristics of the trees and shrubs. Pam remembers that she and Sam deTuro would go to the park carrying with them three color-coded mylar sheets with the locations of either the deciduous trees, evergreens, or shrubs, and pinpoint a tree that they wanted to illustrate. She would then sit down on the grass with her sketch book and start drawing, first using a pencil and later retracing the pencil lines with an Indian ink pen. Sam usually disappeared when Pam got busy, so she was mostly by herself while working on her sketches.
Pam started the project in the springtime and then worked through the seasons to complete the drawings. She does not remember making much use of reference books and mostly relied on what she observed in the park. Not always having enough time during the day because of her busy family life, she took branches and other plant material home and worked on her sketches in the evening when she had no other demands on her time.
The result is remarkable. With our mobile phones or cameras, we all make photographs of plants with the intent of using these pictures later as reference materials. But we often discover that some critical detail that would identify the plant is blurred, too much in the shadow, or entirely absent in our pictures. A botanical illustration is a powerful and often much better tool to present a clear image of a plant species. The illustrator can highlight and slightly exaggerate key features and show a plant’s characteristics in different seasons, something a photograph is never able to accomplish. These qualities are critical and very much present in Pam’s drawings.
Without any formal training in the art of botanical illustrations, Pam was able to visualize the essential physiognomies of different plants. In three of drawings, the Japanese, Norway, and sugar maple are represented with a single leaf depicted frontally with their unique features easily distinguishable. Each leaf is accompanied by one of more samaras which clearly show differences in shape between the three species. The leaf of the sassafras tree was intriguing to Pam because of its lack of uniformity. Her illustration shows three leaves. On is ovate and lobe-less, another looks like a mitten, and the final leaf has three lobes. Alas, the tree has disappeared from the park depriving us of an opportunity to look for four and five-lobed leaves that sometimes appear on this tree. The cones of the white pine are beautifully captured in two stages of development together with their plumes of needles. All illustrations are relatively small and appear in the margins of the text.
Altogether 43 drawings were included in the guide and the picture of the cedar of Lebanon was reproduced by itself on the final page of the booklet. Pam mentioned that Joan and John Emerick, owners of Minute Press in Princeton were very helpful in finalizing the layout of the illustrations. Pam’s drawings were used again in three completely revised Marquand Park guides with a different format. These guides were published in 1989, 2003, and 2004. Pen drawings by Dorothy Geyer done in a similar style were added.
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