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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lining Up a Spring Road Trip

Ellis Peters strikes a gardening chord with his simple words. “Every spring is the only spring, a perpetual astonishment.” But most of us get so busy with outside chores that we forget to take some down time for a dose of inspiration. So what to do when one needs a bit of gardening encouragement? What works for me is a road trip. Although Moore State Park in Paxton, MA
can be visited during any time of the year, it shines best when the Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Mountain Laurels are in bloom. Plan this one accordingly and lose yourself in the vast open space or wooded trails and soak in the best moments of spring.

But there is another reason why you should mark this one on your upcoming to-do-trips. An interesting research project is taking place at the park; a great horticultural comeback story. It’s the hopeful return of the American Chestnut. Before the Chestnut blight in the early 1900’s, this species comprised over 20% of our native woodlands i.e., one out of every five trees was an American Chestnut. If you visit the park, stop by the research orchard. Take a minute to read the history of this species. Then you might grasp how integral this tree was to our ecosystem and its devastating loss as a food source to both wildlife and humans. Chestnut, a rot resistant tree was also the choice building timber of its day. Here’s a recent article that goes into the skinny on crossbreeding the American Chestnut with the blight resistant Chinese Chestnut. It’s exciting that Moore State Park has the ‘lowest mortality rate of any of the research orchards in Massachusetts’.

Want to get involved? The local American Chestnut Foundation encourages you to become part of the research. Make it your 2011 garden challenge to find an American Chestnut tree in bloom. Every seed tells a story.

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Top Image of Moore State Park from the Mass Info Website
Bottom Image of an American Chestnut in bloom from the Massachusetts Chestnut Foundation page

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© 2009 Ann St. Jean-Bilowz/Bilowz Associates Inc. (including all photographs, unless otherwise noted in Annie's Gardening Corner are the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and shall not be reproduced in any manner nor are they to be assigned to any third party without the expressed written permission and consent of Bilowz Associates Inc.)