Horticultural Garden Notes: Tree Labels, Spring Trail Pond, and Black Tupelo Relocation

Spring Trail Pond, with stone wall and staircase in background

Spring Trail Pond, with stone wall and staircase built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Tree Display Labels

With more than 2,500 kinds of trees in Longenecker Horticultural Gardens, it can be daunting for a non-expert to know what they are. For many years, the sole identifier on specimens has been a discreet 1″ x 3 ½″ embossed brass accession tag that lists the common and Latin names. However, these tags can be hard for visitors to locate and read.

Tree identification label attached to tree
Example of new tree labels in Longenecker Horticultural Gardens

Understandably, visitors complain that they don’t know what they are looking at. To help remedy this issue, Longenecker staff have begun attaching new 3″ x 5″ black plastic display labels to deciduous trees throughout the collection. These labels provide common and Latin names, plus plant family and place of origin, in a larger, easy-to-read format. For most trees with a big enough trunk diameter, the labels are attached to the south side of the trunk. Label installation will continue through the spring and summer.

Spring Trail Pond Area Restoration

Adjacent to the viburnum and arborvitae collection along Manitou Way, the Spring Trail Pond area was formally designed by G. William Longenecker in the mid to late 1930s. In recent decades, it has become overgrown with woody invasive plant species such as buckthorn and Asian honeysuckle. During the last year and a half, garden staff, along with dedicated volunteer John Reindl, have begun restoring the area. During the winter, work focused on removing dead trees and invasive brush along the north side of the pond and into the adjacent woods. The clearing work also exposed a historic stone wall and staircase from the street to the landscaped area that had been constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s.

Black Tupelo Moves to a New Home

Small tupelo tree loaded in a tree spade truck for relocation.
Small tupelo tree being moved from Native Plant Garden in front of Visitor Center to Spring Trail Pond area.

Though no planting records exist, former Longenecker Gardens curator Ed Hasselkus reports that G. William Longenecker had a black tupelo transplanted from Birge Hall on campus to the Spring Trail Pond area sometime before 1967. Longenecker developed a great fondness for the tree, and as he was dying in 1969 he requested that the ambulance taking him to the hospital drive by the area so that he could see the tree one last time. Unfortunately, the tree was lost to a severe wind storm in 2004. To honor this memory, and as part of the area’s restoration, the small black tupelo in front of the visitor center has been moved to the area this spring.

The new tree, a male, was moved from the native plant garden next to the Visitor Center, where it was originally planted in 2001. It shared the garden space with a large mature female black tupelo and had begun to compete with it. The male tree was planted there to provide pollen to the female black tupelo, which dates to 1956. There are two other male black tupelos, also planted in 2001, in the gardens northeast of the female tree that will continue to provide pollen.

—David Stevens, Longenecker Horticultural Gardens curator