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February 2012


In this issue
  • Online Resources Link Weather and Planting
  • Mild Winter Helps Winter Annuals Thrive in Northeast
  • Forests of Greenhouse Earth: Director's Lecture Series
  • Save the Date for Upcoming Members' Events
  • February Classes Highlight Experiential Learning
  • Help Us Create Discovery Backpacks for Families
  • Aviflora Exhibition Opening and Special Bird Walk
  • Plant Spotlight on Calocedrus decurrens

  • Mild Winter Helps Winter Annuals Thrive in Northeast
    Winter Annuals

    Don't be surprised if you find yourself thinking about weeds this winter. Unseasonably warm conditions have enabled weedy plants known as winter annuals to flourish this year in southern New England. The seeds of these herbs typically germinate in early fall and the seedlings grow slowly throughout the autumn and winter, whenever temperatures are above freezing. Numbers of a variety of weeds seem to be on the rise as winters trend warmer and springs arrive earlier. The success of these plants illustrates how changes in the weather can favor those species with the capacity and flexibility to capitalize on a changing climate.

    Forests of Greenhouse Earth: Director's Lecture Series
    Director's Lecture Series

    Global climate change remains a critical issue of our time, and this month the Director's Lecture Series examines how plants have responded to extreme climatic shifts in its distant past. Kirk Johnson of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science will discuss The Global Forests of Greenhouse Earth at the Arboretum on Monday, February 6 at 7:00pm. Drawn from his 30 years of research on the forests of the last great global greenhouse period, Kirk's presentation will illuminate a very different Earth; an environment that may help us to better understand the changes occurring in our own time. Please note this lecture is fully subscribed; please call 617.384.5277 to be placed on the waiting list.

    Save the Date for Upcoming Members' Events

    Mark your calendars for two important dates for members:

    Reply date for the Spring Plant Dividend (for Sustaining level members and above): Friday, March 16
    Members' Tour Day: Saturday, April 28

    Members will receive detailed information on both offerings by mail in the coming weeks. We hope you can participate!

    February Classes Highlight Experiential Learning

    Register for a class this winter at the Arboretum and cultivate a richer understanding of plants and gardens. Join landscape designer Christie Dustman on Wednesday, February 5 for the first of five sessions on developing an attractive and coherent garden. On Saturday, February 11, Arboretum Propagator Jack Alexander offers a workshop focused on grafting techniques for deciduous and evergreen plants. Staff Horticulturist Jen Kettell will expand your appreciation of dwarf conifers and junipers on a snowshoe tour through the heart of the Arboretum, also on Saturday, February 11. And the Gardens & Spirit series continues this month with a lecture by James Jiler at Trinity Church on the transforming power of horticulture behind prison walls.

    Help Us Create Discovery Backpacks for Families
    Family Survey

    Supported through a gift from the Arboretum Park Conservancy, free discovery backpacks will be available for families to borrow and use in the Arboretum starting this spring. If you are a parent with one or more kids between the ages of 3 and 11, your participation in a short online survey will help us make the backpack activities more fun and engaging. Each family that completes the survey will be entered to win a JP Licks gift certificate!

    Aviflora Exhibition Opening and Special Bird Walk
    Yellow warbler

    Selected works by four local bird photographers, currently on display in the Hunnewell Visitor Center through March 11, capture the vital interactions between floral and avian organisms. Enjoy the photographs and meet the artists at an opening reception on Saturday, February 18 at 1:00pm. If the exhibit inspires you to get outside this winter to observe birds and their interactions with trees, join Docent Robert Mayer and Visitor Education Assistant Marc Devokaitis on Sunday, February 26 at 8:00am for a bird walk in the Arboretum landscape.

    Plant Spotlight on Calocedrus decurrens
    Calocedrus decurrens

    In mid winter when snow typically blankets the Arboretum, the evergreen foliage of Calocedrus decurrens (California incense cedar) provides a welcome splash of vivid green in the landscape. Its typically narrow growth habit creates a striking focal point in the landscape, complemented by beautiful, scaly, cinnamon-hued bark. California incense cedar encounters no serious pests or diseases in the Northeast, and tolerates a wide range of conditions including clay soils and extreme drought. The Arboretum's oldest accession of the tree dates to 1898 and stands on Hemlock Hill, and the specimens shown here may be viewed near the Arborway Gate on Willow Path.

    All images from the Arnold Arboretum Archives except Plant Hardiness Zone Map (detail) courtesy of USDA, Director's Lecture Series photo courtesy of Kirk Johnson, New England Grows logo courtesy of NEG, and bird image by Brooks Mathewson.

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    Online Resources Link Weather and Planting
    Hardiness Zones

    For more than 80 years, staff have monitored weather in the Arboretum landscape, documenting how meteorological conditions can affect plants in the living collection. Two new resources are now available through the Arboretum website to help gardeners make the most of their horticultural efforts. An updated and newly interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map from the USDA utilizes 30 years of national weather data to provide guidelines that predict a region's average annual minimum temperature, a key factor in determining a plant's chances of surviving the winter. For a more robust picture of weather at the Arboretum, you can now tap into data collected by a new weather station installed this winter in our landscape. Try these simple and accessible tools to learn more about the interplay of weather and plants.

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