Last May, constant readers will recall, I wrote here ( about the start of a project in the Arboretum to plant and develop a so-called “Copse” of trees and shrubs that will bear a constant crop of native fruits for wildlife.

As we went into winter the plantings had been completed, paths and a boundary had been defined and laid and there were even berries on the winterberry bushes to feed birds and small mammals during the cold months to come.

Today, I paid the first spring visit to the Copse to see how things looked at the start of this new rowing season. Would all the plantings have come through the cold weather in good conditions? Would rabbits have ring-barked the trunks of the taller specimens? What was the chance of random vandalism (because it happens) having undone out efforts?

The answer is … all is well. All, in fact is very well indeed. A few of the smaller winterberry bushes had broken stems/branches but we suspect that was a result of these being the bushes that had food on them in winter and it is most likely that animals did the damage trying to get a meal – perhaps some of the arboretum’s deer?

The Amelanchier canadensis are covered with bright, white blossom that is being actively worked by a host of bees and other pollinator insects. The elderberry bushes are in good leaf and large heads of flowers are starting to open on the two bushes that were already residents on the site we chose for the Copse. The other species are starting to bear good leaf cover and seem ready to get on with their task of growing and maturing in the seasons ahead. Especially pleasing was finding that the American black cherry tree is in very fine fettle indeed – that tree will be a wonderful addition to the arboretum when it reaches maturity. Even the two patches of Sanguinaria that we worked around last summer have survived and are looking very happy. All in all, it was a highly encouraging visit.

Species planted are:

  • American Black Cherry – that will be HUGE in 30-40 years from now 🙂
  • Amelanchier canadenisis – a species of serviceberry
  • Cornus alternifolia – pagoda dogwood
  • Cornus stolonifera – a red-stemmed dogwood
  • Viburnum lentago – nannyberry bush
  • Ilex verticillata – winterberry
  • Sorbus americana – rowan tree
  • Sambucus canadenis – native elder

During the first season we had mulched the ground in the copse with aged wood chippings and worked hard to keep weeds at bay so that our chosen plants would suffer minimal competition while starting to get their roots down. This spring there are signs of new ferns emerging in the site – that was expected and welcomed – while small seedlings of volunteer species are popping up all over the place. In the weeks ahead we will invite volunteers to join me and keep the site trim with a weed free zone a couple of feet in diameter, around each of the specimen plantings. If the summer is hot there will be a need for occasional deep watering (the arboretum tell me there are students available for that task – thank goodness, there being no piped water supply anywhere nearby).

Finally, the birch trees lining the Canada 150 Trail that were relieved of their overshadowing neighbours last summer are in full and bright green leaf. They look healthier than they have for many tears.

If you are in the arboretum, do go and visit the Copse. it’s down beside the sugar shack.


While in the Arboretum we were surrounded by resident and passing birds. A pair of Red-shouldered Hawks circled overhead calling to each other, several species of warblers were in the trees, Chipping Sparrows hopped on the ground everywhere, Cliff Swallows were working on their nests below the weather radar by the entrance, prospecting male Bobolinks were in the field beside the branchery. Oh, and there ate still enough ephemeral flower species on the forest floor to catch they eye and gladden the heart. What a glorious start to summer 2018.

** Click any of the thumbnails below to see the images at full size:

(A) The Copse

(B) Birds and Forest Flowers