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More Vandalism

Categories: Trees

Scene of the crime

Scene of the crime

I read with interest the recent article in the Middlebury Campus on the increase in vandalism this year, as I completely agree. We’ve recently lost another tree to senseless idiocy, this one a rare Silverbell. We’d only planted this tree about a year and a half ago, and it was ripped up out of the ground about 2 weeks before it was due to flower. I could see the little flower buds shriveling up and dying right before my eyes. Not only was this tree ripped up out of the ground, but it was snapped in half at the base as well, I guess in case the first injustice wasn’t enough. This was outside of Allen Hall.

Close up of root system

Close up of root system

That same weekend, someone felt the need to do a little pruning on a paper birch outside of Battell.

The branch as found outside Battell

The branch as found outside Battell The tree

Maybe what concerns me the most is the possibility that, because most of the plant vandalism seems to be taking place outside of freshman dorms, we may be in for 3 more years of this. Once again, any ideas are welcome on how to fix this as a community.

Most Beautiful Parking Lot, Ever.

Categories: Landscape, Trees

Is there a contest out there for most beautiful parking lot? I can’t seem to google one, but if one turns up, I’m nominating the the Mahaney Center for the Arts parking lot-the big one off of Porter Field Road. Monocultures are verboten in the arboricultural world, but this singular planting of ‘Snowdrift’ crabapple transforms a blacktop wasteland with nice views of the Green Mountains to something totally magical for a week or so in the spring.

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Snowdrift Crabapples have a great shape, with almost no variation in the population, making it predictable, and therefore enjoyed by landscape architects who don’t trust their plantings to trees that may take any old shape they want. The cultivar gets a nice dull gold fall color, and reddish orange fruit that birds wait and eat in the spring (at least in my yard, returning Robins mostly). While the name may have come from the flowers on the tree, I prefer to think it was named for the petals as they fall on the ground, all at once, blowing against the curbs and tires.

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More Art in the Landscape

Categories: Outdoor Art

While I’ve already proven my failure as an Art Critic, I still enjoy the end of the term, when outside art projects start appearing overnight, and I feel like I should share them with you. Very rarely do we in the department ever find anything out about the works-we don’t even know the class or professor. Many have to do with trees, so sometimes I worry. Like last year, when I took a close look at a yellowwood tree on the south side of Coffrin, and found tiny bits of yarn left on many, many twigs. The yarn must have been nylon, for while it appeared old and weathered, it was still quite strong, and not starting to rot and fall off. All of this had to be removed, before the yarn started choking the branches and killing them. The term isn’t over, but here our some that have appeared.

This was a fun one, on a Japanese Maple tree outside of Johnson. I was over by Battell, and it drew my eye from that far away. Those are little bits of paper scotch taped to the branches, right around when the Magnolias were blooming. It was gone by the next day, with only a couple of errant tape pieces left to remove.

This piece caught my eye. I meant to forward this picture to Matt Biette, asking him for a reward on dishware retrieval. Notice the bottle at the top of the hill, like the plates are cascading down around the spectacular Red Oak tree.

My favorite, though, goes to one I actually know more about, thanks to Carrie Macfarlane of Armstrong Library fame (thanks Carrie!). Jue Yang, ’11.5, made this spectacular sculpture for the Spring Symposium, based on her work in the “Art on the Land” Winter term class with Eric Nelson. You, dear reader, must see this in person to appreciate it-the size and layout preclude great photography, at least by me (any volunteers? I’ll post them) Walk on the Bicentennial Hall side of Freeman International Center, past the patio, and down around the back. The beginning (?) of the sculpture starts low, almost like a fallen tangle of branches, and builds as it wends through brush and trees. All the wood was local to the immediate area, so the piece grows almost organically like the landscape around it, working in a tree, and playing off the topography. Meet me at our Arbor Day celebration on Friday the 7th and I’ll point you in the right direction. (click on the picture to download a larger-one is now my desktop background on my laptop)

Overall View

Close Up

Close Up

Details

Details

Leaves Emerging

Categories: Trees, Uncategorized

“What a rich book might be made about buds and, perhaps, sprouts!”

Henry David Thoreau

Red Maple

Red Maple

Norway Maple

Norway Maple

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

Katsura Tree

Katsura Tree

Camperdown Elm-Flowers

Camperdown Elm-Flowers

Yellowwood

Yellowwood

White Spruce

White Spruce

 

Plant Vandalism

Categories: Landscape, Trees

The final straw came late last week, at about 3:15 in the morning.

Nancy my (wonderfullypatientforputtingupwithme) wife, is a night cook at the Grille. While she was crawling into bed after work, she must have thought I was awake, so she said, “Tonight I saw a student carrying a tree into the Grille.” More

Plants of a (mis)Spent Youth

Categories: Random Thoughts

Friends ask me how I got into this line of work. How do can I explain it to a non-plant person? It’s all about the plants, after all, but how? What is it about the flowers, or the mulch, or the dirt? How did I get from playing Led Zeppelin on my eight track, painting my parent’s house white (again) to landscaping? More

Landscape Department Wins Award

Categories: Landscape

Four of us just got back from the winter meeting of the Green Works- the Vermont Nursery and Landscape Association. Our landscaping department at Middlebury won the Grand Honor Award for 2009 forLandscape and Garden Commercial Maintenance.  We submitted picutures and a narrative shortly before Thanksgiving last year, and a panel of 6 industry professionals and landscape architects met in December.  Projects were judged according to difficulty, proper horticultural practices, craftsmanship, and contributions to the quality of sustainability to the environment.

Green Works/Vermont Nursery and Landscape Association is a non-profit, statewide organization representing Vermont’s garden centers, greenhouses, landscapers, landscape designers and architects, nurseries, arborists, plant maintenance experts, turf care and irrigation specialists, horticultural educators and researchers, and other plant professionals.  For more information visit http://www.greenworksvermont.org/. (small disclaimer-I am jsut stepping down from being president of this organization for three years, but had nothing to do with the contest, and none of the judges knew of my involvement )

Our department was recognized by the judges not only on the outstanding job the crew does on maintaining the extensive grounds here at Middlebury, but for some of landscape planting and environmental initiatives we are underakting. the justdges coments were included, “Good beginning ato sustainability systems”,  “..no-mow meadows are a common sense, sustainable practice.”, “”excellent maintenance of site as concerns public”, and “for size of campus attention to detail good”.

I can’t begin to tell you all how happy I am we were recognized by the green industry in Vermont. While I am the one with the big mouth blog, it is really the dedication of all 12 individuals in our department that make the Middlebury campus as spectacular as it is. They are the hardest working guys I know, and it is a great honor and pleasure to work alongside them on a daily basis.

Below are the 12 pictures we submitted to the judges, along with the description provided, as well as the project narrative written as well. Enjoy.

Project Description

 Our main campus is over 200 acres, with over 75 acres in lawn, 89 acres of athletic fields, 21 acres of parking lots, 16 miles of sidewalks, and 4 miles of roads. The landscape department is 15 people, with 3 dedicated to the athletic fields, and the remaining tasked for the main campus.

 All of our grounds maintenance is done in house, including lawn mowing, fall cleanup, new plantings, and snow removal in the winter. We maintain an urban forest of over 2300 trees, including the northeast’s largest heritage Elm collection. (Elms maintained with help from Bartlett Tree Experts, Manchester, Vermont) Much of the tree care is done in house, including fertilization and pruning. New seeding and sod is done by our department as well.

 Recently, all new plantings, including tree replacement and landscaping around new construction and renovations are done in house. Landscape design work is done in house, occasionally with help from Landscape Architects for sidewalk and other hardscaping. Plant material is purchased locally.

 Our college prides itself on its environmental leadership, and the landscape department is no exception. We’ve recently begun a ‘no-mow program’, where 20 acres of lawn was chosen to let go, in effort to begin a more natural meadow. This has saved over 1000 hours of labor, as well as over 700 gallons of fuel. Research this year has also shown an increase in plant diversity, pollinator and other insects, as well as wildlife. A student group has recently collected seeds from locally growing wildflowers, and these will be sown in a greenhouse in the spring and planted out into the no-mow meadows.

 We have in place an Integrated Pest Management program, and have greatly reduced pesticide and herbicide use in the last 4 years. Invasive plants such as honeysuckle and buckthorn are actively removed from campus grounds, and all potentially invasive plants are not planted in new landscapes.

 Due to the diverse population of our college, as well as the 24 hour nature of any institution such as ours, we have particular challenges to remove snow, and to get the sidewalks and roads bare as quickly and safely as possible. We use a de-icer product as a pretreatment on the roads and walks before a storm-this all natural material greatly reduces our use of salt as an ice melter, as well as reducing our fuel and energy use in snow removal, and results in safer surfaces with less impact to the environment.

Main Quad Finished, and some Snow

Categories: Landscape, Weather

Snow, so far, is a very fluffy 12″, and it is still coming down. I’m betting another 3″ or so. The rain guage has only measured about .16″ of preciptation, just to give you an idea how fluffy the snow is, although I wonder how about the accuracy of that. That would make the snow/water ratio astronomical.

The Main Quad work is finsished, and for those of you that haven’t seen it yet I think you’re in for a treat. Here’s a couple of web cam shots, before and after. Enjoy the snow!

View from Old Chapel-Before

View from Old Chapel-Before

View from Old Chapel-After

View from Old Chapel-After

Main Quad Work In Progress

Categories: Trees

Snow or not, the subcontractors are doing the work for the Main Quad Tree Removal. They started by Old Chapel Road, and I arrived in time to watch the removal of tree number two, the tree that was struck by lightening.

Wound on Tree Number Two

Wound on Tree Number Two

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Main Quad Tree Removal

Categories: Trees

While we dislike removing trees, sometimes we must. The Landscape Department is overseeing the removal of some hazardous trees in the main quad over winter recess. (We like removing trees over recesses–there is no pedestrian traffic and hopefully the ground will be frozen enough so we don’t make much of a mess.)  Since the trees are in a very prominent location, we’ve been consulting with the President’s Staff, as well as the Master Plan Committee, and all are in agreement about the removals. When finished, the look and feel of the main quad will be very different, yet much improved. And, in a bit of synergy, the work aligns with Campus Master Plan. More