Thursday, February 16, 2017

Taylor Arboretum Trail in the Snow

Within the last year, Widener University has taken over the Taylor Arboretum in Nether Providence Township and changes are starting to show. Today I will give you a glimpse of what it looks like covered in snow.


The entrance to the park posts a map of the 30 acres and the trails.  You can also print out a map online at the Taylor Arboretum website.  I should do this because every time, I think to myself, is  this the way?


It could just be me and my love of the outdoors, but I felt as if the snow covered branches were reaching out to greet me, as I walked along the trail towards the Ridley Creek.


This is an area bountiful with butterflies in the spring and early fall season.


If as a kid you grew up playing in Chester Park across the creek you will see that giant rock we all sat on and threw stones into the water.


If you were one of the more adventurous kids you crossed at the waterfall to the Garden City side, I never made it all the way across, too cautious in my youth.  The waterfall is no longer there, you are looking at the location it used to be.  It was taken down because waterfalls aren't good for the environment or something like that. It probably wasn't good for daredevil kids either but many enjoyed the challenge. To clarify, the waterfall known as Sharpless Dam was taken down for the natural flow of fish, specifically shad and others known to the area.


My favorite part about the snow is how it decorates the trees and makes everything look so clean yet leaves a clear passage to help you navigate through the woods.


The arboretum is home to many species of plants, tree and critters and I would image this to be a winter home for one of them. I did not peep my head too far into this hollowed out log to see who may be in residence. I am likewise glad they did not poke their head out to see who was peering into their window. At a certain point, we all have to accept ones privacy.  I did see two white tailed deer prancing up the hill across the creek on another walk in the woods.


There is a bridge down near Rhododendron Walk and I am starting to notice upgraded signage.  The bridge crosses over what I used to call a gully but now know it to be the mill race. By printing out the arboretum map you can learn all sorts of things about the sections of the natural open space. There is also a bench in Meditation Grove to sit and contemplate.



I did find one tree that was labeled, there could be more.  This one is a Norway Maple var. Crimson King. I do know there are more maples and they show their true colors in the fall. They look magnificent.


I think this is the area they are calling the Colonial Quarry.  It is a big massive rock.


My favorite area and the only area that the snow detracts from its beauty is the vernal pond area. For so many reasons, I am always fascinated by the growths jutting out of the ground under the cypress trees. These projections are known as "knees" and there has been no known scientific breakthrough as to what they are there for.  It was once thought for oxidation since the tree is typically grown near or in a swampy watery area and the other theory is stabilization. They are fascinating looking and it makes me feel like I am in Hobbit land. The second photograph shows one up close.


Knees of the Cypress

This gnarly looking tree also attracted my attention.  Look at all the twists and turns of the branches.  It must be a popular hangout for wildlife, squirrels chasing each other around and birds climbing higher and higher to avoid the photographer, because they can. I am looking forward to discovering just what kind of tree this is but until then, I will call it "Gnarly".


Even the icicles were attached to it.

The Taylor Arboretum property was purchased by Joshua Taylor in 1914 to provide an escape from the hectic city life in Chester. He dedicated the arboretum to his wife Anne Rulon Gray.  When Mr. Taylor passed away in 1946, he set up a trust to maintain the property.  Widener University now has that trust.  I trust they will do a great job maintaining another Delaware County treasure.


One of the trees has met his demise, perhaps it had an issue and needed to be cut. It will now go on to a higher calling, the logs were cut for firewood.  Counting the rings, this tree was 28 years old and if you study the rings you can tell the rain filled past 28 years and the dry ones.

According to the website, most of the plantings are from 1951 and 1959.  There are state champion trees on the property, a Korean Juniper and Lacebark Elm are the largest in the state. I don't know if they are marked yet but I am looking forward to finding them. 

On February 18, the Delaware County Master Gardeners will be planting seeds to begin their growth in the greenhouse and will later be sold to the public.

Taylor Arboretum at Widener University is the new name.

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