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Posts tagged ‘Institute Park’

Before the Storms Begin

The weather in New England of course deteriorates after Thanksgiving.  We already had a brief taste of winter snow, and today it is very cold.  The landscape changes under those conditions of course.   I had the urge to hold on to the fall just a little bit longer.  These were taken in Institute Park, downtown Worcester, Massachusetts, right before Thanksgiving.  The leaves are now gone of course.

_DSC7132-EditThis family of Swans was doing some final business before dispersing.


The sky gave a hint of what is to come.


Events of recent days remind me that, as John Prine says, “all the news repeats itself.”  Here we go again.  Perhaps we’ll learn something this time.


When Autumn Leaves…..






Elm and Institute Parks, Worcester, Massachusetts, November 2014

Institute Park, Under Construction

Institution Park in Worcester, Massachusetts began with a bequest from Stephen Salisbury III in 1887.  Salisbury, of the famous Worcester family, intended to create a park that bordered the Worcester Polytechnic Institute but at the same time would be open to the public.  One condition of his bequest however was that he would take charge of the Park’s design, according to Evelyn Herwitz in Trees at Risk.  The Park has a fascinating history which you can read about at the web site of the Friends of Institute Park.  I was not aware for instance that there was once a tower on the grounds and that there was a bridge to the island in the pond at the Park.  As the history also reveals, however, like most other parks, it’s been a long and winding road, with periods of reinvigoration followed by neglect.  I’ve come to understand that that’s the nature of the beast, as Herwitz details in Trees at Risk.  The important point is that it’s not always neglect.  Neglect breeds activism.  In the absence of the activism, we’ve got a real problem.  Happily, Institue Park is now undergoing some significant reinvigoration which you can read about here.  We visited the Park recently.  I focus here not on the renovations, which are coming along, but the experience of the Park as it was, which illustrates to me both the beauty of it’s design, as well as its need for a bit of sprucing up.

To me, the carefully planted rows of great trees has always been the hallmark of the Park.  That being said, for others, I’m sure the Pond is the centerpiece.

The banks of the Pond are home to a wide variety of wildflowers, really doing their thing this time of year.  These are “spotted joe-pye-weed”, at least that’s what Chris thinks.  Identifying these things isn’t as easy as it might seem.  (But I just wanted so much to use the name “spotted joe-pye-weed.”  You have to love the names of wildflowers.  That’s got to be a story in and of itself.  At any rate, if we’re wrong about the name, please post a comment.)

Many of the trees standout on their own as character trees. If only these trees could talk…

But alas, some of them are beyond the talking stage.

The life of an urban tree is not an easy one as Herwitz points out.  Institute Park was first developed roughly 120 years ago, so it is inevitable that the population of trees turns over.  Again, this is where we come in.  Places that matter require our attention.  We are grateful that Institute Park is receiving some needed attention and anxiously await the results.

Tech note:  Shot on Kodak Ektar 100 film, believe it or not.

Why Infrared for Trees?

People may be surprised by the look of these “black and white” images. The leaves are typically closer to white.  The reason for that is that the original image capture is done with a camera, in this case a Nikon D200, which has been “converted” from one that captures in normal color to one that captures in infrared.  Any thing that reflects infrared light will appear bright.  Chlorophyll which of course can be found in the leaves of trees, readily reflects infrared light, giving the leaves the apparent brightness that you see here.  (This particular camera was converted by a Life Pixel , one of the leaders in the field.  The cost is not great.)

So, why infrared?  Ironically, by highlighting the foliage, infrared also shows off the trunk, at least as long as there’s any sun around.  The trunk is less reflective of infrared light, and so stands out in all kinds of weather. So much of the story of a tree can be told by the trunk.  It’s the truck that gives the tree character, that tells you about the problems the tree has faced (lightening, disease, dog you know what, lack of sun and whole host of other challenges), the tree’s job, the tree’s age, and ultimately the trunk represents a testament to the life that has passed out of the tree when it’s time comes.  Of course, for great trees, that time can be quite long.  In the city, trees tend to live less than twenty years.  But most of the trees you see here have been around much longer.  Not everyone likes the IR capture of imagery, but for me, IR allows me to convey something of what I feel like when I’m interacting with a great tree, even one whose time has passed.  These images are all from recent trips to Elm and Institute Parks, in Worcester, MA. Click on the images for a larger view.