September’s Bloom Where You Are Planted Edition
Photo by Paul W. Meyer
Our History at Home offerings typically sprout from history and architecture. Today, and once every month, we offer a conservation cornucopia from the Conservancy and some friends on trees, gardening, and stormwater management. We hope to help you “Bloom Where You Are Planted.”
September – Pollinators
by Emilie Lapham, Conservancy Board Member, avid gardener, botanical artist, and active participant in several noted local and national garden organizations.
Pollinators, are vital for life
Remember the diagram of a flower and its parts from grade school? A pollen grain moves from the anther (the male part) to the stigma (the female part) and pollination happens. Pollinators are a huge part of this process when they visit for a drink of nectar or to collect pollen. Birds, bees, bats, butterflies, beetles and other insects are a large part of the pollinators. Most flowering plants need pollinators to assist in the pollination process.
Agriculture depends on pollinators to be a part of growing food. In fact, 75% to 95% of plants need the help of pollinators and about one third of the food we eat was pollinated.
Problem. The insect population has declined by 75% since 1950. The use of pesticides, loss of habitat, and pollution all contribute to this issue. Much of this problem is beyond our individual control but we can try to improve our relationship with nature on our own properties.
Plant for pollinators. Reduce lawn areas and plant more wildlife friendly habitat. Invite insects and birds and bats to your garden and watch them thrive. Here are some of the plants that will attract pollinators to your property:
Bee Balm
Butterfly Weed
Cardinal Flower
Cone Flower
Joe Pye
and so many more
Be sure to plant for blooming throughout the spring, summer and fall. Take walks around your neighborhood to see what other plants have attracted pollinators.
With some luck you will even spot humming birds and Praying Mantis. Install a bat house. Try to eliminate the use of chemicals and insecticides on your property. You will be rewarded by beautiful insects, bats and birds and a more sustainable environment for living creatures.
All Photos by Emilie Lapham
Top: Bee enjoying fennel. Second: Flower diagram. Third: Bee covered in pollen. Fourth: Spring Magnolia. Fifth: Hummingbirds love nectar. Sixth: Blue winged wasp. Seventh: Buddleia is sure to atract butterflies. Eighth: Elegant swallowtail. Ninth: Monarch and Butterfly Weed. Bottom: Moth with proboscis.
See the entire gallery of images for this month’s article at our A Gardener’s World page! Visit our History at Home page for more information.
September – River Birch
by Paul W. Meyer, Conservancy Board Member and
Morris Arboretum’s Retired F. Otto Haas Executive Director
River Birch – Betula nigra
As the common name suggest, river birch is a riparian species, well adapted to moist streamside soil conditions and occasional flooding. It is distributed widely across the eastern U.S., from Texas and Florida northward through the upper Midwest and New England. In Chestnut Hill, it is widely cultivated and can be found growing naturally scattered along the banks of the Wissahickon Creek.
Unlike the more northerly birch species with pure white bark, it is tolerant of summer heat and thrives in the south. Though it lacks the dramatic smooth, white bark of paper birch, its flakey bark is attractive in a more subtle way. The color and texture of the bark varies from one individual to the next, ranging from a deep cinnamon color to a pale tan. Cultivars have been selected for their light-colored, heavily flaking bark. The most widely planted cultivar is ‘Heritage’. Trees found in the wild are more likely to have darker bark that is less strongly exfoliating.
Here in southeast Pennsylvania, river birch is the preferred choice for a long-lived birch, since it is well adapted to our hot summers and resistant to the bronze birch borer which can devastate paper birches and the European white bark birch. River birch tends to drop its leaves early in a drought, but usually no lasting harm is done.
River birch can be grown with a single stem or with multiple stems. Multi-stem specimens highlight its beautiful bark character. It is a relatively fast-growing tree and can exceed a height of 70 feet.  As it matures, branches can be somewhat brittle, so it is best to plant a safe distance from structures.
See the full gallery of images HERE.
Photos by Paul W. Meyer
Top: A multi-stemmed specimen of heritage’ river birch growing on the bank of Paper Mill Run at the Morris Arboretum.
Second: Mature river birch growing in a Chestnut Hill garden.
Third: River birch growing on the Schuykill River floodplain along the Schuykill River Trail. As a riparian species, it is well-adapted to periodic flooding and poorly drained soils.
Fourth: The bark of heritage river birch is especially dramatic when backlit..
Fifth: Snow highlight the attractive bark of Heritage river birch.
Sixth: A grove of Heritage river birch at the Morris Arboretum. Note the difference in form between the multi-stemmed specimens and the single stem tree.
Seventh: The repetition of these multi-stemmed river birch creates a peaceful oasis just steps from the traffic of Germantown Avenue.
Bottom Photo: River birch shading the sidewalk along Germantown Avenue.
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.
Plus more Sneak Peeks of Night of Lights slideshows
The fifth annual Night of Lights is less than two weeks away! We’re excited to share a look at two more of this year’s archival stories being shared in storefront windows on Germantown Avenue between Highland and Willow Grove. Check out our website for the full list!
Every evening from October 8-17, 7PM – 9PM
Don’t forget to RSVP on Facebook for even more sneak peeks and updates!
A Civil War Hospital and
What Came After
This featured image is from the slideshow, A Civil War Hospital in Chestnut Hill and What Came After.
In January 1863, Mower General Hospital opened in Chestnut Hill for wounded U.S. Army soldiers. Named for Thomas Mower, a respected senior Army surgeon who served in the Florida Seminole Wars, the 34 radiating ward buildings occupied 27 acres in what is now the Chestnut Hill Village apartment complex. This slideshow will share images of the hospital and the surrounding area, its administrators and patients, and what came after.
In the above image, several soldiers and a civilian are seen in front of the latticed guard house at the Mower General Hospital entrance, with a wood plank walkway leading between the buildings. To the left is the only two-story radiating building, which contained sleeping rooms for attendants and clerks, the laundry and the reception room.
A Civil War Hospital and What Came After is presented by Night of Lights Sponsor Kurtz Construction.
Postcards from the Wissahickon
Today’s second sneak peek image is from our Postcards from the Wissahickon slideshow. These antique postcards with Wissahickon views, published and mailed between 1898 and 1944, are from the collection of David Bower (a Friends of the Wissahickon volunteer).
Postcards featured in this archival story include “real photo” postcards (made from, yes, real photos!) and, in contrast, embellished pictures with colors often drawn from the artist’s imagination. The embellished card pictured here shows the statue of Wissahickon benefactor Henry Houston at the base of Harvey Street, at Lincoln Drive. The lake no longer exists… and cars there look a little different nowadays!
Postcards from the Wissahickon is presented by Night of Lights and Conservancy Sponsor Millan Architects.
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  • October 7 – Historic District Advisory Committee Public Meeting 6:30pm. Register HERE for a Zoom link to attend
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Chestnut Hill Conservancy | 8708 Germantown AvenuePhiladelphia, PA 19118