(This article on Fauna’s Tree Projects by Arborist Ken McAuslan orginally appeared in Fauna’s 2016 Annual Report. Ken will be lead a forest walk at the upcoming Our Place in Nature: Chimpanzee, Art, and Tree Songs workshop.)
1. The first of our tree projects is a tree identification program began with the creation of a list of all tree species, both native and exotic, that currently grow on Fauna and Reserve property. To date our list comprises over 100 species and it continues to grow. We will gradually tag as many trees as possible that are in conspicuous locations with colourful and informative markers. This is an ongoing project.
2. The major effort for the year was the establishment of a small controlled hardwood forest to the north of the Chimp House where we planted 780 Black Walnuts (Juglans nigra) and 100 Chinkapin Oaks (Quercus muehlenbergii) in a field of approximately 1and 1/2 acres (75 feet wide by 950 feet long. I am including the specs on the field layout below). The walnut seeds came from 3 different local sources in order to ensure a healthy provenance mix. I personally provided 600 (300 from Mercier Quebec and a further 300 from Abbotsford Quebec). Another 200 came from Bernard Contret of Pepiniere Lafeuillee in St.Charles Borommee, Quebec. He also provided the 100 Chinkapin Oaks. We were able to buy all of his germinating seeds at 20 cents apiece for a total outlay of $60.
Neither of these tree species is native to Quebec but both grow in Southern Ontario and will grow well in the Montreal area once established but therein lies the rub. These are first year seedlings with rudimentary root systems so we are very dependent on weather. We will lose a considerable percentage over the wintermonths so I currently have some 500 cleaned walnut seeds stratified in our fridges in order to replace our losses in the spring. This is a very labour intensive project in its initial stages, at least until the trees become established, so it will continue to consume a great deal of my time as well as volunteer time. This past summer volunteers were critical in the planting, weeding and watering of these seedlings. Kudos to them for their efforts and to Natalie Noureldin for their organization.
3. The fall of 2016 saw the beginnings of our projected arboretum. Our ultimate goal is to have over 200 trees planted in fields to the north, south and west of the existing walnut field, a total of 3 acres. These will be specimen trees, practically all of which are exotics, with the large majority being of North American origin. Unlike the Walnuts, these trees will be open -grown to better display their natural beauty. During the past fall we have planted some 80 of these with the remainder wintering in one of our barns; they will be planted out in the spring. The specimen trees come from 5 separate sources: first myself, then Bernard Contret of Pepiniere Lafeuillee in St.Charles Borommee, Quebec, Frederic Gladu at Arboquebecium in Ste. Catherine de Hatley, Quebec, Marc -Olivier Harvey at Pepiniere Casse-Noisette in Maskinonge, Quebec and of course Joe Sciazzi at Centre du Jardin Brossard. Over the past three years since the inception of our tree program we have spent roughly $1500 on specimen trees and germinating seed from suppliers.
A sidelight of the tree projects was a decision by Richard to try to protect some of the more desirable red and white Ash trees that are in immediate proximity to our central Fauna operations areas. This has been an expensive undertaking relative to our other tree endeavours having cost us some $3500 to date. However this was a 2015 outlay for equipment and medication which I chose not to repeat this year past as it is such an invasive procedure. I will however resume the treatments in June of this year (2017) or we will lose some beautiful trees to the Emerald Ash Borer.
I continually collect seeds in the fall (it’s a habit I can’t seem to break) from which I grow young trees in pots. Many of these come from the Montreal area and many more from Toronto (species are found in the central Toronto core that grow nowhere else in Eastern Canada). I currently have some 250 pots wintering in the barn together with our remaining specimen trees and these will be repotted in the spring. In addition I have seeds of a number of other unusual trees which are now in stratification in our fridges at the farm to be potted out in the spring once they begin to germinate. The object of all this (hopefully) is to provide young trees for sale, particularly when the barn/boutique becomes a reality on the south side of Bellerive.
Last spring we received 210 large potted trees from Centre du Jardin Brossard and we dealt with them as follows. (I always inventory these deliveries to compare with the shipping slips and to better know what we have). Initially I destroyed 30 Cherry trees that were infected with the “Black Knot” fungus (Dibotryon morbosum) that should have never been sent in the first place. Most of what we receive from Centre du Jardin Brossard arrives on life support (which of course is why they cost us very little) and we try to resurrect them. A further 20 were basically DOA and we also sold about a dozen. The roughly 150 remaining we planted around our property.
In the fall we received a further 27 “very large” potted trees again from Centre du Jardin Brossard and these were planted (with two exceptions) on the south side of Bellerive adjacent to our newest barn which we hope to renovate. When they arrived I again inventoried them and discovered an error. They sent us a lovely Japanese White Pine, mistakenly grouped with native Eastern White Pines and this we planted in our new arboretum as a specimen tree. Sometimes you get lucky! In addition they sent one ornamental spruce which I rejected as scrap.
We will be posting updates of our tree projects in the coming month!