After Storms, Middletown Arboretum Takes A Hit

Nov 3, 2011

It's been a rough week for people without power.  It's also been a rough week for trees.  WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports from a century-old Middletown arboretum that took a beating. By now, it's a familiar story -- heavy snow falling on leafy trees led to falling branches, downed power lines, and no electricity.  But once the power is restored and life gets back to normal, the trees will still be damaged and gone.  Jane Harris took me for a walk and a tour of the damage at the Wadsworth Arboretum, a tree-lined street in Middletown.  Harris is the president of the Rockfall Foundation -- an organization founded 75 years ago by Colonel Clarence Wadsworth... Harris: Who built this arboretum on city land to make a beautiful spot on the way to his mansion, Long Hill Estate. Cohen: How many trees are here along Long Lane? Harris: At least count we had named 255 trees and then we lost about 30 in Hurricane Irene. I haven't done an inventory since this storm, but it looks to me as if probably another 20 will have to come down, so we're probably down around 200. Harris: It's a museum of trees so it's really invaluable.  Generally speaking the trees that were hardest hit in the storm were the ones that had very large leaf canopies.  So the magnolias were badly damaged.  This tree for example -- a hackberry tree.  You probably didn't know there was such a tree as a hackberry and I bet you've never seen one.  And it's a lovely specimen but you can see at the top it's just been blown out, so this tree will never be a fine specimen.  It's a terrible loss.  It's just off the charts as far as what nature has dealt to this arboretum and to trees all over the state.  It's very sad. Harris says the Wadsworth Arboretum has lost probably twenty percent of its stock between Irene and the snow storm.  The foundation is hoping to have a five-year replanting plan soon.   For WNPR, I'm Jeff Cohen.