Monday, March 2, 2015
We are very excited to announce that the Arboretum Explorer™ web page went ‘live’ in January of this year. Arboretum Explorer™ is an online interface that allows users to search and locate The Arboretum’s plant collections, garden features, memorials, and more. This website draws data from our recently renovated plant-records software and makes pertinent information available in a user-friendly format.
Perhaps the most useful and comprehensive feature is the SEARCH tab that is displayed from the home page. This feature allows users to search for a plant by scientific or common name, Genus, Family, or ‘area’ (such as Arboretum Woods). If you search for ‘oak’, a list of the twenty-three native oak species will display on the bottom of the page. To go one step further, click on ‘bur oak’ from the list and a new page will appear showing an image of a bur oak, a list of each individual bur oak (we have 53), and a map displaying the exact locations of each tree within The Arboretum (images below).
The MAP tab is useful for visitors who can access Arboretum Explorer in a mobile-friendly format while walking outside. This will allow visitors to see their current location on the map in addition to all of the trees, allowing for instant identification of unknown species.
Finally, the FEATURES tab is a sortable and searchable means through which memorial trees and benches, birdhouses, specialty gardens, facilities, and more can be located.
Please note that Arboretum Explorer is a work in progress as well as a dynamic inventory that is changed and updated regularly. We hope you will utilize this new tool for connecting with The Arboretum’s plant collections.
Arboretum Explorer™ can be accessed from: http://uky.arboretumexplorer.org
Monday, December 8, 2014
Staphylea trifolia (American bladdernut) is a Kentucky native shrub that can be found in the wild throughout the state, but is all too rare in cultivation. It is most commonly found growing in mesic deciduous woodlands, and to a lesser extent in floodplain woodlands and along riverbanks. This is a handsome species whose paucity in home gardens may be due to being poorly known, or its growth habit which some gardeners may find untidy. Bladdernut tends to form suckering colonies that spread slowly and may require additional maintenance.
|Bladdernut ex situ|
Staphylea is a member of the Staphyleaceae Family and takes its name from the Greek word staphyle (a cluster) which is a reference to the arrangement of the flowers. The specific epithet ‘trifolia’ is also descriptive and means a three-part leaf. The plant is rather easy to identify during the growing season based on the foliage; leaves are compound with three leaflets, and occur opposite on the stem. The stems have longitudinal bands of black and gray making them quite attractive and distinctive. Lastly, if you’re still wondering what a bladdernut is, the fruit develops into an inflated papery-bladder containing several small seeds. Since there is no nutritive portion of the fruit, the seeds are most likely dispersed if the fruits are carried away by wind and water.
|A bladdernut leaf is comprised of 3 leaflets|
|characteristic striped stems|
|pendulous flower clusters|
|This ripe fruit has turned brown, note that the inside contains a few seeds but is otherwise 'hollow'. These fruits may persist hanging from the stems well into winter and can be quite attractive.|
The Walk Across Kentucky displays bladdernut in the Appalachian, Bluegrass, and Shawnee Hills regions. Give it a try in your landscape if suckering stems are not a major concern and the site stays reasonably moist and shady.
Friday, October 24, 2014
A cool and precipitous autumn has yielded some fantastic fall color on the Walk Across Kentucky. It is the last hurrah for much of our 2014 foliage before what is purported to be an unusually cold winter. We enjoyed a terrific growing season and are especially thankful to the many volunteers who helped expand the WAKY trails and exhibits. Here are a few images from across the collection.
The Appalachian Plateau
|Sassafras albidum, trail of pines exit|
|The beech corridor (Fagus grandifolia)|
|Trail of pines entrance, Sassafras albidum|
|BG meadow: Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, Schizachyrium scoparium|
|Maple grove: Acer saccharum/nigrum|
The Cumberland Mountains
|Juglans, Fraxinus, Quercus grove|
|West Knobs transition|
|The new Ash trail, Fraxinus profunda still holding leaves|
|Pennyrile trail entrance: Quercus stellata & marilandica|
|Rhus & Acer|
The Shawnee Hills
|Rock Berm #2|
|Shawnee Hills Meadow|
Thursday, July 31, 2014
The Shawnee Hills Floodplain forest is one of the new exhibits along the Walk Across Kentucky. Planted during the spring and summer of 2013, it has quickly become established with some exceptional native plants from western Kentucky. Presently, this area is overflowing with blossoms and pollinators. In particular, the cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) and its pollinator, the ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) are a sight to see.
This specific site is a low-lying depression planted as a grove of willow oak (Quercus phellos) in 1991. The area sees a substantial amount of surface water collect and flow through during heavy rain events. Because the canopy of the oaks was so dense, there was minimal vegetation on the ground, and as a result this site was prone to erosion. What may seem to be a location unsuitable for gardening is actually an ecosystem that is quite common, especially in the Shawnee Hills region of Kentucky. Often referred to as a floodplain forest, areas such as these typically contain hardwood trees such as the pre-existing willow oak grove at The Arboretum. The plant community is adapted to wet soils, often deep shade, and extended periods of submersion.
The stunning transformation of this exhibit in the past year is a testament of the dynamism of native plants when planted in favorable locations. Not only does this highlight that there truly is a right plant for all locations, but it shows how quickly (and relatively simply) sites such as these can be established.
Here is a look back at the development of this exhibit:
|'before'; a very dense grove of Quercus phellos, complemented by false indigo (Amorpha fruticosa - front left) and eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides - front right)|
|Step 1. Allowing visitor access required some pruning of the oaks for clearance as well as a boardwalk, since the area is prone to flooding. This boardwalk was part of an eagle scout project.|
|The completed boardwalk in autumn, 2012. The oaks had recently dropped their leaves, but the absence of ground vegetation causes them to wash away during winter floods.|
|Spring 2013, the Native Plant Volunteer group begins initial planting of the Floodplain forest. This included removal of hidden patches of purple wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei), a significant invasive species.|
|Winter, 2014. The floods arrive. During heavy rain events this area stays flooded for days at a time. The new boardwalk allows access through the garden, and the newly established vegetation helped to control soil erosion|
|Spring, 2014. After concentrating energy on root growth the previous year, the perennials exploded in 2014. The blue stars, trillium, phlox, beardtongue, and iris were extremely floriferous in early spring.|
|Summer, 2014. (today)|
|Lobelia inflata (left), Lobelia cardinalis (right).|
|Swamp milkweed in a sunny spot at the entrance to the boardwalk, just beginning to open.|
|This informational sign was designed by Arboretum intern and UK Landscape Architecture student Will Coleman, and installed on the edge of the boardwalk.|
|A look back towards the WAKY, cardinal flower in all directions. A pair of hummingbirds were taking full advantage of the red flowers but moving too fast to photograph.|