Another beautiful summer is sadly coming to a close. And as the kids are preparing to go back to school, either physically or virtually, the Friends of Crawford Park are gearing up to plant more great flora in the park. Shrubs, trees and perennials are all on order and the soil is getting prepped for more plants in the parking lot beds and in our other gardens throughout the park.
Gardens are our ever-evolving gifts to the community that provide joy throughout the year. The Friends are happy to continue planting these gifts and we are grateful for the ongoing community support we are given. If you love what you see and want to further our efforts, click here to donate.
September’s Spotlight Tree: The Shagbark Hickory
Hickory nuts are now beginning to fall providing a feasting ground for all types of local animals like squirrels, fox, red bellied woodpeckers and wild turkey. In the spring moth and butterfly caterpillars will feast on the hickory’s leaves. The birds then feast off the caterpillars and the ever-expanding spiral of the food web spins away.
You can find six Shagbark Hickories in the park. If you are impressed with my intimate knowledge of tree inventory, I must disclose my source. The Town of Rye commissioned Bartlett Tree to make an extensive inventory of trees in the park and the whole database is online right here.
This Shagbark Hickory is listed as tree #280 on the Arborscope database. Right now, if you sit under its mighty strong branches you might get conked in the head as it sheds its nuts for the season. And 2020 seems to be a bumper crop for nuts, in the horticultural world this is called “mast year” that happens every three to four years. It is as if the trees are talking to each other saying I think it is time to try to make more little trees and they drop many more nuts during mast years than others - there is power in numbers and the probability of creating a seedling is much more likely. But to grow a hickory from seed to its current size will take longer than our lifetimes. This tree takes so long to grow that it is called the “patience tree” - it takes up to 40 years to bear fruit and can live up to 300 years. It is also one of the strongest woods in the forest - baseball bats and golf club shafts have been made with their wood and chipped up hickory wood makes wonderful smoked meats.
Keep an eye on this tree throughout the year. Right now it is bearing nuts, soon its leaves will turn golden and start to fall, in the winter its bark will start to peel back like a bad hair day, hence the name Shagbark Hickory and then in the spring the caterpillars will inch their way back to their home and the cycle will continue.
So the next time you pass a hickory in the park take a second to appreciate it for all that it does for our local ecosystem. But there is no hurry - she has been there for many years and (knock on wood) she will be there for many more to come.
Bluebirds Fly High and Multiply
During a recent late afternoon visit to the park I ran into Sandy Morrissey, aka the Bluebird Lady. I re-introduced myself and we chatted about the birds and the bees...well, mainly the birds. She was happy to report that the bluebird population at Crawford Park is doing remarkably well this year.
Each year the Eastern Birdbird population fluctuates and a few years ago the docile bluebird was at risk of extinction due to the fact that they were running out of natural habitat. But thanks to people like Sandy, who have erected these nesting bird houses you see affixed to posts in the middle of the fields at Crawford Park, the Bluebirds now have a place to call home. And according to Sandy this year has been a great one for the Bluebird.
She has seen four nesting Bluebird pairs this season at Crawford Park alone compared to just one last year. If you look for them, our resident bluebirds are still living in the park. I usually see them perched on a small weeping cherry tree in front of the mansion.
Community Garden Coming Soon???
At our last Friends of Crawford Park meeting, we decided to explore creating a community food garden that would supply fresh produce to those who are food insecure. According to Amy Benerofe, of Our New Way Gardens, ¼ of Westchester residents are food insecure, meaning they don’t know how they are going to feed themselves. And that statistic was before Covid-19.
We are currently in the exploratory stages and are looking for feedback from the community. If you are interested in supporting a “giving garden” please fill out this quick survey. We are looking for synagogues, schools, churches or other organizations or just one or two awesome farmers to run the garden. The Friends can build the structure, but we want to make sure it is 1- necessary, 2- maintained, 3- supported by the community at large.