Part Deux: Secrest Arboretum, Early May, 2020

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And now, Part Deux: The Rest of the Story for Secrest Arboretum, early May 2020. Let us hope that Friday night’s frost will not be as severe as predicted.


Secrest Arboretum
Welcome to Secrest Arboretum


Plum Black Knot. Ah, most rank disease.  The plum black knot fungus (Apiosporina morbosum: what a name) does look a little like death warmed over.  This fungus is a pathogen of plants in the genus Prunus, from plum (duh) to eating and flowering almond, to other species, such as peaches, apricots, nectarines, and in this picture from the old Shade Tree Plot at Secrest, Okame cherry (Prunus xincamp ‘Okame’). At this point, pruning out the knots is your best management option, though this is obviously not practical if the disease has progressed to large portions of the plant, including main stems.  


plum black knot
Plum black knot on 'Okame' cherry


StipulesThis botanical term (meaning straw or stalk), coined by none other than Linnaeus, is a “leaflike outgrowth on either side of the base of a petiole (leaf stalk)”.  They are truly beautiful on a number of plants, including many maples. The key is to be looking for them this time of year. 


Stipules on Japanese maple
Light catches the stipules on this Japanese maple.


Leaves emerge and the subtending stipules shine.


Stipules and flowers on Japanese maple
Look at these stipules and flowers on another Japanese maple.


I mean, come on now, is this not wondrous. Stipules, leaves emerging, and flowers on a Japanese maple at Secrest Arboretum


Sweetgum Flowers We Hardly Know Ye.  I was introduced to the monoecious flowers of sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) years ago from the luminous images in “Seeing Trees” by Robert Llewellyn and Nancy Ross Hugo. Seeing the male and female flowers this time of year, alongside the fruits (ripened ovaries) from last year changed my appreciation of sweetgum. See what I mean?


sweetgum flowers
Male (above) and female (below) sweetgum flowers, as well as emerging leaves


sweetgum in spring
New growth on sweetgum with the old fruits from last year


sweetgum fruits on the ground
Under the sweetgum tree, those "mace-like" fruits that so many disdain


sweetgum flowers
Yet, if last season's fruits doth exist, cannot the new season's fabulous flowers be far behind?


Crabapples Have Arrived!  In bygl-alert “The Crabapples Are Coming, the Crabapples Are Coming” ( we noted that the peak bloom in Secrest Arboretum’s Crablandia was nigh, and now it is here. The Williams Road at Secrest now open this week and all are welcome, with proper social distancing, to drive through, and to walk through the plot and along the roads to enjoy crabapple diversity, from the 1951 planted ‘Rosseau’ to ‘Strawberry Parfait’ and hundreds more. Cool weather this week could provide almost a two-week peak; if that Friday frost does not intervene.


'Rosseau' crabapple
'Rosseau' crabapple earlier this week


'Rosseau' crabapple
'Rosseau' crabapple with its 40 foot spread. Planted in 1951, it is shown here in 2020 with the young Laura Chatfield illustrating its size


Flowers of 'Rosseau' crabapple
Flowers of 'Rosseau' crabapple


Crabapples at Secrest Arboretum
Roadside and Crablandia crabapples at Secrest Arboretum


Crabapples at Secrest Arboretum
Crabapples at Secrest with dawnredwood grove peeking out in the background


Crabapples at Secrest Arboretum
Drive along Williams Road at Secrest Arboretum. Hopefully Friday night's frost will not be too damaging 


Crabapples at Secrest Arboretum
One of the joys of crabapples: Diversity of flower color and of shape


And finally, the last of the winter finery of river birch, the sideways and downward male cones of fir, bejeweled pearlbush (Exochorda) buds opening to blooms, planetree flowers glistening in the sun, mosses of mosses of green and orange hues, and the lilting look of larches. Welcome to Secrest Arboretum.  


Pearlbush (Exochorda) picture taken last week. Now the "pearls" have opened


Planetree flowers in the sun
Planetree flowers glistening in the sun. I wish I would have done a better job with the picture, but still...


Male fir cones
Male fir cones. Female cones of Abies  will orient upwards


Mosses of different hues
Moss of different hues


Moss reproduction
The orange arises above the green as mosses alternate their generaions


The larch is weeping
A weeping larch at Secrest


Foliage of the lovealy larch


End Note: Check out last Sunday’s New York Times Book Review drawings and text from Walt Whitman’s “Leaves Of Grass”. A reminder to all in our days of reflection of finding the joy in “smallness and routine”.



I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journeywork of the stars,

And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren,

And the tree-toad is a chef-d’oeuvre for the highest,

And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,

And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery,

And the cow crunching with depressed head surpasses any statue,

And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels.

And I could come every afternoon of my life to look at the farmer’s girl boiling her iron tea-kettle and baking shortcake.”


ant and beech blight aphids
An ant (a pismire) apparently harvesting honeydew from beech blight aphids. Photo by Jack Savage.