A Tree’s Life

The seasons and stages of Awbury’s urban forest

Maples at Awbury. Courtesy: Karen Flick

The last of the leaves are falling and a new season is quickly approaching. The trees throughout Awbury Arboretum and the Greater Philadelphia area take on a new look. However, these dormant trees are not to be ignored until the spring.

Awbury embraces the landscape as an urban forest and tends to the trees in all seasons and stages of their lives. New trees are planted every fall and spring while older trees are cared for until their ultimate need for removal. There is a long road to this point which may cross generations of caretakers and does not end at the tree’s removal.

Trees which are planted in the past three to five years are monitored for proper watering as they establish their root systems. As they grow, their branches are systematically pruned to ensure the trees develop healthy form. Throughout the tree’s lifetime, caretakers monitor for diseases and other challenges like changes in the surrounding environment. Everything from a pedestrian path to a new building can influence the tree’s health.

Courtesy: Karen Flick

As trees age they are monitored for declines in their vitality and safety. This includes dead branches and hollows forming in the trunks. When a tree is deemed no longer safe, it is scheduled for removal. This does not mean it no longer has a role to play.

Some tree trunks may be left standing with just the branches removed. This maintains safety while leaving the trunks for wildlife habitat. Birds like owls and flickers like to nest in hollows of tree trunks. Awbury finds many other uses for the trees as well.

One recent addition is the large climbing log pile in AdventureWoods Nature Playground, constructed from a fallen Red Oak. Many tree trunks become lumber in a partnership with Fuugs Woodworking, while their branches may simply line paths. Awbury embraces the tree’s many uses as fundraisers for the continual care of our existing tree collection.

Courtesy: Karen Flick

You can participate in the care of the Arboretum’s collection throughout the year as well! Supporters of Awbury can join volunteer planting days in the spring and purchase firewood early in the fall. Every year in November, you can pre-order your own holiday tree and/or wreath, which not only provides festive cheer for you and your family but also supports our efforts to tend and nurture the trees within the Arboretum.

Calendar Alert!
Upcoming events at Awbury Arboretum. To register, get tickets or more info, visit awbury.org.

Sunday Fun Days
Sundays, 2-5PM
On Sunday afternoons goats will be ready to greet you and Awbury staff will be on hand to answer your questions.

Saturdays and Sundays, 10AM-2PM
AdventureWoods is Awbury’s natural materials playground — a mixture of structures, paths, and loose materials that invites families to play in nature.

Awbury Arboretum
One Awbury Rd.
Hours: Although the Cope House and the Arboretum offices are closed until further notice, the meadows, gardens, and grounds of Awbury are open every day from sunrise to sunset, and, as always, free.

About Karen Flick 10 Articles
Karen is Awbury's Landscape Manager. She is a former intern at the arboretum and a Temple University graduate with degrees in psychology and horticulture.

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