As we are out and about in the Arboretum, at this time of year, we can all be appreciative of the marvel of broadleaved evergreen trees and shrubs. This category includes: boxwoods, hollies, Magnolia grandiflora, leatherleaf mahonia, azaleas, rhododendron, and even the yucca. Just think if our Arboretum were absent of these steadfast shrubs and trees that give us green all through the winter season. These elements in the garden provide color for the eye to enjoy as you walk through the Campuses.
While we all may have differing opinions on the desirability of snow, we do know that snow does have some benefits for trees and plantings. One major benefit of a good snow cover is that the snow functions as an excellent insulator of the soil. Without snow, very cold temperatures can freeze the soil deeper and deeper, which could lead to damage of root systems and shrubs.
Snow can also provide insulations for perennials, bulbs and ground covers from alternating freezing and thawing cycles. Without snow, milder temperatures could warm the soil and cause damage from heaving, which can break roots and dry out plants.
An additional positive of snow is the enhanced visibility of many trees in the Arboretum. Trees with ornamental bark and /or berries appear brilliant against the white backdrop. Even our favorite evergreens can look much greener with a background of snow and a bright red cardinal or robin sitting in them.
For a “wow experience” of spring color, make a visit to the Haddon
Greenhouse, located on the Ground Floor of the Haddon Building on the
Medford Campus. This space is run by an MLRA Committee and is open from
mid-October through mid-May. The colors and assortment of plants in bloom
this past week were remarkable. Take a visit to enjoy orchids, lemon
trees, aloe plants in bloom and a wide assortment of geraniums. A great
way to start off the New Year!
The beauty of berries can be found in many directions in the Barton Arboretum at this time of the year. Just pass by the front Atrium as you enter the Community Building on the Medford Campus and you will note not only the purple Beauty Berries, but the red berries of the American Holly as well. Also, on the Lumberton Campus, you will note in multiple locations the scarlet red berries on the Winterberry shrubs. A feast for the eyes for humans, and needed sustenance for the birds as these native shrubs and trees provide nourishment as we enter these cold months.
At this time of the year, you will hopefully enjoy the many Poinsettia plants decorating areas of the Campuses. Poinsettias are native plants in Mexico, where they flower during the winter. These colorful plants are named for Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was the first Ambassador from the US
to Mexico in 1825. While visiting Mexico, he was intrigued by the poinsettia plants growing locally, and began growing them in his greenhouses in South Carolina. The Ambassador enjoyed sharing them with friends and family. The holiday tradition of sharing these plants continues on today.
Just last week, we were all treated to a beautiful tree lighting on December 7th, the evening of the Holiday Show. Again, Ken Hutz has strung colorful lights to simulate a tree just off the Colonial Dining Room and Holly Room. This tree is a treat for residents and staff to enjoy. It is certainly the most colorful tree in the Arboretum at this time of the year. Thank you Ken!
It is a wonderful time of the year to enjoy a walk around the Campuses.
As you do so, you will see a good number of fresh holiday wreaths adorning
the doorways of our residents’ homes. Many of these were made at Pathways
Programs hosted on the Lumberton Campus at the end of November. The
majority of the greens came from the Arboretum. It is a treat to see the
variety of greens and natural items, such as pine cones and seed pods come
together in such a creative fashion.
Paperbark maple, Acer griseum, is a small, deciduous tree, easily found
on the Medford Campus on the Terrace located just off of the Willow
Room in the Community Building, as well as in the Atrium as you enter
the Community Building. The tree is especially attractive at this time
of the year, as the leaves have dropped, and you can focus on the bark.
The bark is very interesting as it peels into large curls which remain on
the tree, rather than falling to the ground. When the sun hits the tree
at just the right angle, there is a wonderful copper glow to enjoy.