For those who didn’t make it outside
by James Yuan
by Lois Brown
By Alice Nicolson
Last spring many of us were thrilled to find that Collington almost had a county Champion tree in our woods – almost, because although the tree is about 200’ behind unit 5004, it is just outside our property line in the adjoining county Regent Forest Park. The tree came to our attention in 2016 because neighbors asked Davey Tree Company to clear the woodland behind their homes. The Davey arborist noticed the big tree, misidentified it as an ash, and recommended that it be treated against Emerald Ash Borer infestation (a recently arrived pest which is killing ash trees all over the country). Jane Engle contacted her friend Mike Ellis, a Prince George’s park ranger, and asked him to come over and check out this large ash since it might be a county record holder. Mike came, determined that the tree was a mockernut hickory, not an ash (so definitely not needing protection against the EAB!), took its measurements, found its location was just outside Collington property (alas!), and determined that it was indeed a Champion tree for the county. Jane was credited with nominating it (and she and Mike co-nominated two other county champions in other parks). Jane and Mike did some other tree hunting in the neighboring woodland and found one other likely candidate, but had not measured it at the time.
Pfund, Nicolson and Engle with Mockernut
This week Mike Ellis and his supervisor, Chris Garrett, came over to meet with Ken Burton, Jane’s husband, to have another look at the Mockernut and to relocate and measure the other large tree. (Kyle Olsen and I came along as well). The tree is located several hundred feet downstream from where the trail behind 5110 goes into the swampy woods and meets the stream (Bald Hill Branch) at the white bucket marker. It also is not on Collington’s property, being across the stream where the beaver was very active earlier this winter, in Enterprise Park. However, it is easily seen from our side. Chris and Mike waded across the stream (I clambered across on fallen tree trunks) determined that the tree was a bitternut hickory, measured it and checked the current record listing for that species – and we have yet another county Champion tree not quite on Collington land!
Bitternut with sign
Chris and Mike placed plaques designating both champion trees on stakes at the foot of the trees, facing Collington viewers. Both trees remind us of Jane Engle, whose love for trees inspires all who worked with her. If you walk the woodland trail behind the 5000’s, look for the new sign there and, if you are nimble, ramble down our side of the stream and see if you can spot the big tree just across the water!
Occasionally, this blog draws attention to articles in our sister publication, the Collingtonian. Peggy Latimer’s piece in the January 2018 issue is deserving of such focus. The piece, tells the history of slaves here at Collington, to the minimal extent that it can be reconstructed from wills and other documents. The story is particular present, because of the graves up on the hill, including one of Basil Warring, who had “inherited” ten slaves from his father.
It is, of course, deeply shaming for a white person to read, and I think Peggy gets just the right combination of factual clarity and respectful perspective:
Peggy notes at the end, “With much research, we may be able to learn more of the history of these people. At the very least, shouldn’t we be honoring those enslaved persons who lived and labored on the land where we all now reside?” At the very minimum we should find public ways to recognize and honor that we enjoy the legacy of the labor of their forced and denied lives. Without in any way suggesting equivalence, the need to remember and honor reminds me that a few years ago, I went with my Polish Holocaust surviving aunt to a gymnasium (high school) in Mainz Germany, and for our visit, as part of a larger group, they had put up a mounted display of The Holocaust in Mainz, including a map showing locations.
Here is a photo of my aunt with some of the display. The kids were deeply respectful and attentive.
Surely we can try to do as much.
Indeed, there must be much else that we could do, that not only reminds of the past, but steers us for the future in these apparently anti-historical times.
Contributed by Dorothy Yuan
Finally, upon the much-anticipated completion of The Landing and other revised Collington space, the temporary road used for construction can now be removed. Instead of discarding the asphalt milling, it is being used to improve part of the perimeter trail going into the woods.
Contributed by Alice Nicolson and Marian Fuchs
On Friday 8 December, 18 months after Jane Engle, Peter Pfund and Alice Nicolson first walked with a meadow guru around campus to evaluate the status of the various meadow areas, native plants were being installed on the slope below the beehives (on the way to the community center) to form the first flowering meadow on campus – the first of many, perhaps.
“A year from now this will be a thing of beauty,” said the supervisor of the six men doing the soil improvement and planting. The project planting guide gives a glimpse of how things will look. The plan for the left half of the 3000 sq ft meadow is shown below.
The large circles marked Rc will be dwarf sumac shrubs. The smaller dots will combinations of butterfly weed, milkweed, switchgrass, white beardtongue, slender mountain mint, little bluestem, Virginia spiderwort and heartleaf golden Alexander. (Stirring and delightful names!)
Another portion of the planting guide, shown below, shows the color scheme of the flowers and the foliage, and their bloom time.
Preparing the meadow was hard work.
The meadow will consist of native plants, accustomed to growing in our campus soil. So the workmen did not improve the area. Instead the existing lawn grass was killed and each new plant had a hole drilled to receive it. (See the man drilling above right.) As each section was planted, a light layer of mulch was spread (see above left). This willl be the only addition to the planting area. For the first year or two the meadow will be hand-weeded, but after that it will need only a single spring mowing and once-over to remove any invasive tree seedlings.
The meadow already has people who care for it. Snow covered the meadow the day after it was planted, but once the snow melted, the area dried quickly and our new horticulturalist, Kyle Olsen, was seen staying late to give the entire meadow a good watering.
Naming is a nuanced issue here at Collington, but many of us will always think of this area as “Jane’s Meadow.”