Friday, February 19, 2010


The cold wind may blow but there is still lots of work going on at Pine Hollow Arboretum.
Breaking it down, here are three areas where John Abbul and other Arboretum workers tackle some of the necessary winter tasks. On a seasonal basis, just as nature has cycles and changes, so does the work effort needed to keep the Arboretum
healthy and growing.

First off, John and Steve Truss have been busy with landscape logging. John told me they had just taken down nine trees. Eight ash and one hybrid chestnut. Some trees need to be cut to facilitate the growth of existing plantings. After they fall each tree is cut into small log lengths which are then neatly stacked off the trail. The Pine Hollow philosophy is to leave tree debris to decay in its natural environment. The hybrid chestnut was one of a number in a grove. It did not have the growth characterists of the others and John said thus it was "removed from the gene pool."

Second, John Abbuhl and Audrey Hawkins have been at work on an important labeling project. For six years (2004-2009) plantings had not been labeled. Of the three thousand recorded plantings in Pine Hollow Arboretum approximately 80% have labels. These plantings would be included in the unlabeled 20 %. After their efforts now all the plantings for the six years were entered into the permanent records. These records include the location. From this data it will be possible to place labels on trees. John says "This will be ten times more difficult than you believe." But what a wonderful learning opportunity! This Spring and Summer the labeling project will be advanced by finding the match between planting and planting record and attaching a label to the plant itself.

A third area of winter work is determining the spring order of new specimens. Our world class collection is a mix of the common and the unusual. John Abbuhl said the 2010 order will follow
his traditional method. John said he looks for and will try any new species that can survive in our climate. As the current collection indicates, any fir, spruce, pine, birch or decidious tree that would have a chance of surviving and is not currently growing here will likely be purchased. John will try again with species that have failed in the past and sometimes a past failure will be reversed by changes in the growth variables (such as where on the property it is planted) and/or the genetic characteristics of the specimen itself. According to John three-quarters of Zone 6 rated planting can and have survived here. In dollar terms, Pine Hollow Arboretum is spending more than $2,000 on new plantings this year.

old playhouse