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Posts tagged ‘Hadwen Arboretum’

Hadwen Arboretum – An Earth Day Treat

Earth Day is this coming week, April 22 to be more specific.  The theme for this year’s Earth day is “A Billion Acts of Green.”  The idea, often mentioned, is to help out the planet by doing something positive that’s more or less right in front of your nose.  I’m very happy then to celebrate the work of a group of students from Clark University as well as volunteers from Wachusett Greenways who spent some serious time recently at one of my favorite spots, Hadwen Arboretum.  I was thrilled that the group, led by Elizabeth Redlich from Clark was interested in trying to enhance the Arboretum as part of the University’s Sustainability Initiative.  The weather’s been lousy since then, but we finally had a chance to go back and see the results of their efforts.  They basically cleaned the place up and laid out long forgotten trails, making a visit there much more user friendly.

The blue dots are the trail markers.  If you click on the image of the wonderful old Beach tree below to enlarge and look carefully, you’ll get a sense of the human/tree interaction that has been going on here for so many years.

With a good deal of the trails cleared and now passable, the trees themselves begin to reassert themselves, as was originally intended by Mr. Hadwen.

If you only view the state of environmental awareness from the perspective of politics, you’re probably a bit discouraged at this point.  Too many Representatives and Senators, including one of our own, seem to be unable to come to grips with our situation and with the opportunities before us to embrace a different way of living which will also by the way improve our economic position.  But we are not powerless in the face of all this.  The idea of A Billion Acts of Green, at least to me, is that we must do what we can to move the planet forward, even if it’s one stick at a time. So in that spirit, thanks to Clark and the Wachusett Greenways on behalf of Mr. Hadwen, and the Hadwen Arboretum Neighborhood.

Once that place starts blossoming this spring, any day now, it will be worth a visit.  Happy Earth Day!

Back to Hadwen, Again

A quick panorama from the our expedition to Hadwen Arboretum earlier this week.  Here’s hoping it doesn’t snow and mess up the Trail Day planned for April 2.  The details can be found in the previous post.  Click on the image for a better view.  This will give you a somewhat better sense of what it’s like there (interpreted in black and white of course).

Tech note:  Seven images initially shot with an IR converted Nikon D200, stitched together in photoshop and converted with the black and white layers command.

Back to Hadwen Arboretum

Last fall I posted a photoessay here about Hadwen Arboretum (to save you the trouble of tangling with the search engine, you can find that post here).  To make a long story short, the Hadwen Arboretum was envisioned by it’s benefactor to be a repository of a wide variety of trees and a place of study, owned by Clark University.  Over the past decades, however, the Arboretum has fallen upon hard times while becoming something of an impromptu park not far from downtown Worcester, Massachusetts.  As I wrote, restating the obvious, it’s a lovely spot and deserves care.  That post turned out to be one of my most popular ever.  It also stimulated a number of comments including several from Mr. Greg Doerschler who works at Clark and has worked with several student groups in the past who were interested in doing something for the Arboretum.  Their efforts are obviously continuing to good effect.

I’m very happy to report that a group of interested students and staff from the University are going to be holding a Trail Day at the Hadwen Arboretum on Saturday, April 2, 2011 with the goal of sprucing up the trails that wind through the forest there.  You can read more about the event here.  Those of us who live in the neighborhood owe these folks a debt of gratitude.  This kind of work matters.  I’ve written about environmental issues here on a number of occasions.  I’ve often discussed big picture issues such as global warming and invasive species.  The reality, however, is that critically important environmental concerns are literally visible right before our very eyes every day.  Awareness of and action on those concerns collectively adds up to a better world, you know the whole thinking globally but acting locally concept.  It really does work.

But why, what’s the point?  We walked back through the Hadwen this morning.  It still feels like winter around here, though the snow is rapidly disappearing.  The forest is still dressed for the cold, even though there are buds on the trees.  When the morning light cuts through the forest, revealing stories, shapes and shadows, you know why places like this matter. (Click on the images for a better view.)

Yep, some assistance is in order here.  (Though interestingly, what you see below is called “large woody debris” after a timber cut or harvest.  I’m not sure what the intent was of leaving the debris here, but wild life love this stuff.)

Thanks to Mr. Hadwen and those who have shown an interest in the trees here.

Hadwen Arboretum – Neglected in Worcester? (Updated, November 6, 2010 and March 29, 2011))

(Update March 29, 2011.  There are some new developments going on at the Hadwen that you can read about here. )

(Update November 6, 2010.  This blog post is being updated in response to some very helpful information provided by Greg Doerschler, which you can find in the comments section below.) The Hadwen Arboretum is a small (I’m guessing four to six acres) stand of urban forest that sits at the intersection of Lovell and May St.’s, not far from downtown Worcester.  It’s a lovely spot and I’ve had the opportunity to walk it many times.

It’s a spot that’s obviously been used by the community for many years as a playground and a place of reflection.  The huge beech, oak and maple trees lend themselves well to climbing and play.  Initials carved into the bark suggest that play there was not confined to pre-adolescents.

It is, however, difficult to get good information on the Hadwen.  It is owned by Clark University but there’s little mention of the property on their web site, other than that is is currently being used as site for composting of landscape waste (not a bad thing in and of itself) and a community garden, which does present as a welcome site.

I had read about the Hadwen first in a book I discussed several months back by Evelyn Herwitz, Trees at Risk.  Obadiah Hadwen bequeathed the land to Clark in 1907.  A very civic minded gentleman Hadwen was involved with the Parks Commission.  Perhaps more importantly, he was a farmer of trees and on his eighteen acre property on Lovell St. in Worcester he raised a variety of trees brought there from around the globe including magnolias, siberian maples and black walnut trees from Japan

You can find a report on the property, created by what I believe was a student group or student project, here . As the unnamed authors of the report…CORRECTION:  This valuable report was created by Mr. Greg Doerschler and I’m very grateful for his communications in the comments section below. Note that this story is still unfolding, thankfully. The report confirms Evelyn Herwitz’ report that the University has been at a loss as to what to do with the property, though they have made a commitment to keep it.  Mr. Doerschler’s document also includes a very interesting map that plots the location of the tremendous variety of tree life there, or at least there as of 1978.  Species include Oak, Beech, maple, hemlock and birch as one might imagine, but also horse chestnut trees and magnolia trees as well. (American chestnut trees of course have all but disappeared from the eastern United States, due to disease.  I wasn’t clear whether or not the horse chestnut, which is European in origin, was also vulnerable to asian chestnut blight, the culprit in this case.  Nevertheless, the horse chestnut still presents an interesting and somewhat rare site, to my eyes.)

But it is not hard to find signs of neglect at the Hadwen, as the local species and native ground cover overwhelm the forest.

Trees compete for light and nutrients.

The winners come to dominate, and the losers pass on.

Hadwen’s bequest was “to be forever kept for the purpose of educating students in agricultural, historical and arboreal knowledge scientific and practical.  I adopt this course with the purpose in view of preserving the trees and plants growing thereon, being a portion of my life work, shall be preserved as an Arboretum, and an object lesson to assist students in the education of the science and art of arboriculture and improving the landscape.”  (From Hadwen Arboretum Historical Notes, page 1.)

We are reminded in touring this lovely but fragile spot that it doesn’t work for humans to walk away from the natural environment.  Hadwen created this environment, in collaboration with nature.  Once we have intervened in the environment, we’re in the game in perpetuity in many instances, unless we intend to encourage a piece of land to become “wild lands.” (More about that in an upcoming blog.)  Here we have an example of the legacy of a man, his personal vision, and its interaction with an environment.  While the property is owned by the University it has clearly been in the custody of the community for many many years.  The citizens are stakeholders in this business too, and speaking as one of those citizens, I’d like to see this lovely spot maintained for future generations.  That will, however, require some work.