Hello, Fringe Tree

Making a new old friend

All photos courtesy of Karen Flick

Learning a new plant is like making a new friend. Learning enhances our ability to see, smell, hear, feel, connect. There are times in everyone’s life when feeling connected is more challenging, but forming a connection to the immediate natural world can help limit that feeling of disconnect.

Becoming acquainted with a plant on a frequented path is one way. In the past few months Awbury has highlighted the connection to the past through walking paths, encouraged slowing down to notice seasonal differences, and shared in the built-up excitement for the start of spring by watching buds. Now, we would like to embrace the glory of one tree, frequently passed: the fringe tree.

The scientific name for the fringe tree is Chionanthus virginicus. This tree is in the olive family, as evidenced by its small bluish olive-like fruit in the late summer. According to some, the fruit is edible if pickled, but it seems best left for the birds as it is a great resource for wildlife. This native tree naturally grows along the edge of wooded areas and streams. It is also a popular street and landscape tree for its smaller size, wildlife resource, and most of all its spring flowers.

In the month of May, this tree becomes a fallen cloud of white wispy blooms which engulf the landscape with a sweet fragrance. The common name is based on the fringe appearance of the abundant hanging white flowers.

The oldest fringe tree at Awbury is located behind the Cope House and is a great fringe tree to meet. Visitors can be sure to see this tree while in the Arboretum by going up Awbury Road all the way into the parking lot and then walking the paved path into the Cope House terrace and gardens. The fringe tree is to the right of that path, surrounded by perennial flowers.

If you experience this tree or another favorite, please share it with us and our fellow Awbury Community! Whether it is a post on Facebook, a great photo on Instagram, or even an email sharing your experience, Awbury loves sharing these connections which reinforce what we are all about – “Connecting Community to Nature.”

Scavenger Hunt Alert!
Enjoy Awbury’s 55+ acres while identifying birds, bees, sounds, and more! Sunshine and nature – a perfect antidote for cabin fever! Go to our website to download your list.

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.

Awbury Arboretum (the former Cope family estate) transports visitors from city streets into a country retreat that is the largest remaining oasis of open space in Germantown. Trails weave through 55 acres landscaped in the English romantic style, with open meadows, ponds, woods and rolling hills.

The Copes lent their Quaker sense of aesthetics to this world-class arboretum; in 1870, they hired William Saunders, designer of the Capitol grounds in Washington, D.C., to bring their vision to fruition. Today, Awbury’s mission is to preserve and interpret their historic house and landscape, in order to connect the community with nature and history. Awbury is free and open to the public every day (dawn til dusk). More info at www.awbury.org.

 Follow them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter: @awburyarboretum

About Karen Flick 9 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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