It’s June at The Copse
The “Forest Gardeners”, a subset of the Friends of the Morgan Arboretum, have been working in and around the Copse area of the Arboretum to make sure that all of the plantings we placed last summer have come through the winter and are thriving.
Today when we arrived in warm, but not too warm, sunshine we found that an Indigo Bunting was serenading us from the nearby trees and the field surrounding the Copse was enhanced by many, many Swallowtail butterflies feasting from the thistle flowers. Also – no mosquitoes!
Since our last visit when we spent a lot of time hoeing off small maple and other tree seedlings that were emerging from last year’s plentiful seed production we found, somewhat to my surprise at any rate, that there really very few that we had missed which allowed us to concentrate on getting out ambitious thistles and errant sumac sprouts. All of the berry-bearing trees and shrubs we planted last summer have put on huge amounts of new growth since our last group visit, three weeks ago, and it is evident that the entire Copse collection is thriving.
The blossom is now over and already we are seeing the appearance of berries that will be available before long to the Arboretum’s birds and other creatures. In particular heavy berry crops are developing on the Elder (Sambucus) varieties and good (because the trees are young) berry amounts on the Amelanchier and Dogwood plantings. The other plants will produce their fruits in due course – remember the species selection was chosen to ensure a continuous berry availability from early summer through and into the start of next winter.
Approaching the Copse from Chalet Pruche the visitor comes down a small slope into a field full of tall grasses, flowering thistles and Queen Anne’s Lace – all flowering at the moment – and one’s initial thought is “what’s happened to the Copse” as it is hard to see. As you reach the bottom of the slope though you find yourself on one of the wood-chipping paths we created that lead you to and around the Copse. It’s really worth taking the time to visit.
This second year the “Forest Gardeners” are concentrating on making sure that each of the plantings is free from undue competition by keeping a two foot or so circle around each stem free of invasive plants. Last summer, we operated a scorched earth policy and kept the entire area free of of plants other than those we had placed there but this summer we are allowing select species to establish at respectable distances from the trees and shrubs. Mostly these are ferns and a few not too vigorous native species that have arrived. The biggest problem is caused by thistles that survived our deep digging last year – not surprising as they have deep roots that are easily broken.
We will be returning at regular intervals during the summer and fall to make sure our vision for this planting is maintained and that no “takeover” by weeds happens.
Here are some more pictures of what the Copse looks like today … please click on any of the following thumbnails to open the gallery up at full screen size, and then pass on to the following section where we invite you to join us in looking after the Forest Gardens.
How you Can Help …
We invite all members of the Arboretum to think about joining the Forest Gardeners … just the occasional hour or two will contribute to making this part of the forest reach its potential. If you have basic gardening skills and knowledge we would welcome your help.
Not only the Copse … we will also be working in the nearby Blossom Corner in the weeks to come once the Copse is growing well under its own steam.
On the right are some instructions about how to volunteer.
Become a Forest Gardener
If you have basic gardening skills and knowledge and would like to contribute occasional hours of work please get in touch – send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get you organised.