On a couple of frosty, muddy mornings in March and early April the first rows of trees planted in the Bluecircle were Douglas fir and Norway spruce seedlings from Burgess Seed Co. and the Berrien County Conservation District. The summer was relatively wet, and both trees and the abundant weeds prospered. Even with mowing and some cultivation it has been hard to see the trees for the ragweed, red clover, thistle and even poison ivy, but with the first snow the survivors are now visible alongside their marker flags. Overall about 85% of the 160 seedlings made it through their first growth season, which was better than I expected. A lessons-learned note about poison ivy in the Spring – bared-handed planting in March is to be avoided even when your gloves are wet unless you don’t mind following up with 2 weeks of treatment for the ivy rash! A tree spade works just as well and doesn’t mind the cold.
Now that the leaves are down the full extent of damage to the mature trees around the Bluecircle is apparent. Trees between the lake and top of the hill had the least protection from storm winds blowing from the northwest and many tall, but relatively young tulip poplars with 8-10 inch trunks were damaged. Brittle honey locust and soft maples were pruned wherever they grew. Some will survive, and others will need to be removed once the ground is frozen. Sadly an old maple, probably nearly 100 years old, has developed a large split in its main trunk and now threatens both buildings and the electrical power lines to Pomona Point. A large red spot on the trunk has marked it for removal. A few oak seedlings sprouted in its shade last summer and in the sunny space soon inherited they may mature into shade for the next generations.