Bloom where you are planted
January 2022
Welcome to the first monthly Bloom Where You Are Planted of 2022, returning with illustrations and guidance of perennial interest. Here you will find a cornucopia of beauty and knowledge from the Conservancy and some friends featuring trees, gardening, bugs, our green watershed, stormwater management, and more. We wish to help you “Bloom Where You Are Planted.”
January – Eastern White Pine
by Paul W. Meyer, Conservancy Board Member and
Morris Arboretum’s Retired F. Otto Haas Executive Director
Eastern White Pine
Eastern white pine is the tallest tree in the eastern North American forest. Many trees more than 150 feet have been recorded and historical accounts note trees exceeding 200 feet. It is a long-lived species, often living more than 200 years, and trees over 450 years old have been observed. Its natural distribution ranges from the southern Appalachian Mountains in Georgia northward into southeastern Canada, and northwest into Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
Before settlement, extensive forests of enormous white pine were common within its range.
Its wood has been highly valued for many purposes including construction, interior woodwork and furniture.   Historically, the tall, straight, strong trunk was the favored wood for ship masts. The wood is very strong in relation to its light weight, making it ideal for this use.  In 1691 an act of the British Parliament of England declared the tallest and best of the trees were property of the Crown. Because of the white pines’ great value, this declaration led to increasing unrest in New England culminating in the 1772 Pine Tree Riot in New Hampshire. These disputes with the crown over ownership of white pines is often considered a contributing cause of the American revolution.
The old growth white pine forests were heavily cut in the 19th century, until only a few inaccessible stands of virgin pine survived. Today, white pine is widely planted for reforestation and reclamation of mining sites and is still considered a valuable lumber tree.
Here in Chestnut Hill, white pine is an important landscape tree. Once established, it grows rapidly, up to 3 feet a year for the first few decades of its life. After that, growth gradually slows to less than 1 foot a year. When young, eastern white pines have a formal, pyramidal form, but as they mature the crown opens and becomes more irregular. It is common for eastern white pine branches to break in storms, contributing to a picturesque habit. Beautiful mature white pines can be seen throughout our communities, often towering over nearby homes. Notable white pines can be seen in Pastorius Park and the Morris Arboretum.
Because of their eventual size, white pines should be sited with care, allowing them space to grow. They grow best in well drained, acidic soils, and in full sun; in shade they are less dense and spindly.
White pine is considered an excellent tree for wildlife, providing food, shelter and habitat for birds, foxes, squirrels and small rodents. Mature white pines are a favored nesting tree for bald eagles.
Often, when trees are grown literally by the millions, unusual forms caused by genetic mutations may occur. When these mutants are of special interest to landscapers and gardeners, they can be selected, asexually propagated, and given a cultivated variety (cultivar) name. White pine has many cultivars including ‘Nana’ (slow growing), ‘Fastigiata’ (upright) and ‘Pendula’ (weeping). These can especially be useful in small gardens, where the full height and breadth of a white pine can be overwhelming.
See the full gallery of images HERE.
Photos by Paul W. Meyer
Top: This mature, dwarf eastern white pine, growing at the Morris Arboretum, was planted by the Morrises before 1932.
Second: Very tall, mature eastern white pines growing in Chestnut Hill near Pastorius Park.
Third: An exquisite white pine at Chestnut Hill College.
Fourth: These eastern white pines growing in Pastorius Park, were shown on a 1935 planting design by Fred Peck. They are now approaching their centenary, assuming the specimens installed were at least 10 years old.
Fifth: A elegant eastern white pine growing at the Morris Arboretum, framing a view to the Whitemarsh Valley.
Sixth: A white pine showing its picturesque mature form in a Navajo Street home garden.
Bottom Photo: Native white pines growing naturally in the Poconos.
See the entire gallery of images for this month’s article at our Tree of the Month page! Visit our History at Home page for more information.
Chestnut Hill Conservancy is regularly highlighting special trees in our community, both large and small, as well as common and obscure. In doing so, we hope to promote an appreciation of our arbor legacy and foster a culture of stewardship and renewal of this invaluable resource.
Ask the Experts Program
A free program to the community, Ask the Experts addresses a featured topic by an expert on prevalent issues relating to historic home and landscape care. Ask questions; get solutions! Organized by the Chestnut Hill Conservancy and co-sponsored by the Chestnut Hill Community Association.
Garden Friends & Foes: Integrated Pest Management for your Garden Challenges
Wednesday, March 16, 2022 at 7pm
As gardening season draws near, landscape designer Christopher Sohnly will discuss means of managing your home garden in harmony with nature. His firm Spruce Hollow, LLC, is a full-service landscape design company in Mt. Airy providing garden design, installation, and maintenance.
Free, registration required to receive zoom link on the day of the event.
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  • February 24 – Discovering Chestnut Hill virtual Lecture “Recasting the Victorian Suburb” 7:00pm. Purchase tickets HERE.
  • March 16 – Ask the Experts virtual Program “Garden Friends & Foes” 6:00pm. Email HERE for a Zoom link to attend
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Chestnut Hill Conservancy | 8708 Germantown AvenuePhiladelphia, PA 19118