July’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.”
Homeowner Strategies for Planting and Maintaining
Trees in a Changing Climate
Hal Rosner, certified arborist with Shechtman Tree Care will discuss maintaining and planting trees to combat climate change, the importance of canopy trees and native species, and spotted lantern fly mitigation.
This program is FREE, although pre-registration is required.
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.
Check out this Spring’s lineup of previous Ask the Experts events – recordings of all of these presentations are now available on our website HERE!
Celebrating the great and interesting trees
of Chestnut Hill
by Paul W. Meyer, Conservancy Board Member and
Morris Arboretum’s Retired F. Otto Haas Executive Director
Trees are essential to Chestnut Hill’s sense of place. Not only do they beautify our community but they also clean and cool the air, fix co2, while producing life-giving oxygen. Trees are critical in protecting our watershed, insuring a steady and clean supply of water.
Residents of Chestnut Hill are fortunate to have inherited a bounty of large canopy trees as well as smaller flowering trees. But we can’t take this wonderful legacy for granted. We must not only care for our aging trees but also plan and plant for the future urban forest.
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 our arbor legacy and foster a culture of stewardship and renewal of this invaluable resource.
The London planetree (Platanus x acerifoliais) one of the most widely planted street trees in Chestnut Hill and, indeed, throughout the temperate world. It is a hybrid of the North American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and the Oriental planetree (Platanus orientalis). This hybrid has been cultivated since the late 17th century. One theory is that the hybrid originated at the Oxford Botanic Garden. This chance seedling soon demonstrated its vigor, adaptability and stress tolerance and in time it became the dominant tree of the London urban forest.
Both parent species are large, long lived trees, growing in nature in riparian floodplains. During floods, their roots must be able to tolerate anaerobic soil conditions. This ability serves the tree well when planted in urban sites, where the soil is frequently poorly drained, compacted and not well aerated. It is also quite tolerant of pollution, drought and deicing salts and recovers well from mechanical wounds to its bark. All these adaptations serve to make it a successful urban survivor. The American sycamore is native across most of eastern North America and the Oriental planetree hails from southeastern Europe and the Near East.
Most of the cultivated Platanus here in Chestnut Hill are the hybrid, London planetree, though some American sycamores can also be found in cultivation. They are best differentiated when fruits are present.  The American sycamore tends to have fruits borne singly, while the London planetree has two or three on a cluster. Also, the bark of the London planetree is more olive in color while the American sycamore is whiter, though individual trees can be variable.
Platanus are afflicted by anthracnose, a fungal foliar disease, particularly during cool, wet springs. The resulting defoliation will weaken but not usually kill the trees, though it is unattractive until the tree produces new leaves. This past spring was a particularly bad year. The London planetree is more resistant, though not immune, to this disease. Recently, newly hybridized cultivars have been selected specifically for greater disease-resistance as well as other ornamental characteristics.  ‘Exclamation’ and ‘Liberty’ are quite new and just becoming available while ‘Bloodgood’ is a longstanding favorite. For high impact urban sites, it is best to use these superior, anthracnose-resistant selections. Because of the anthracnose problems, the American sycamore is best used in naturalistic forest and riparian restoration plantings.
London planetree is so successful in urban sites that it has been overused. In planning our urban plantings it is important to maintain a high level of diversity. This is especially important as we face climate change and the onslaught of new insects and diseases. A rule of thumb is that no one species should make up more than 5% of a city’s tree population. Nonetheless, the London planetree continues to merit judicious planting along Philadelphia Streets, particularly where large, urban stress-tolerant trees are needed.
Paul W. Meyer,
The F. Otto Haas Director, Retired
Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania
Visit our History at Home page for more information, and also our new Tree of the Month page!
Photos by Paul W. Meyer:
Top – A majestic specimen of Platanus sp. growing in a difficult site on Germantown Ave. in front of “Bird in Hand”.
Second – Leaf detail of the Germantown Avenue tree.
Third – A fine alley of London planetrees along 34th Street at the Philadelphia Zoo.
Botton – London planetree continues to be an important, widely-planted street tree in London.
A Gardener’s World
by Emilie Lapham, Conservancy Board Member, avid gardener, botanical artist, and active participant in several noted local and national garden organizations
Echinacea or Coneflowers are a true winner and highly recommended in the garden. This plant is native to America and was used for healing by the first Americans. It is still used for medicinal purposes today. It is part of the daisy family and has a similar structure of a pronounced center with radiating petals. The petals bend back slightly giving a kind of motion to the flowers and show off the special center cones.
Echinacea is drought and heat tolerant, attracts butterflies, birds, pollinators and not the most favorite food for deer. Plant in full sun to light shade in ordinary soil with good drainage. No need to feed just deadhead and it can bloom from late spring to early fall. In the fall leave seed heads and the birds will feast on them. Plant in large drifts for a colorful show at the height of summer even when it the hottest. When they are happy they will also drop seeds and spread in a polite way.
Echinacea is available in a variety of colors but Echinacea purpurea (purple) is the most popular and you see it in many local gardens. It is probably the most robust and colorful.
Photos by Emilie Lapham
Explore the Outdoors with our Community Partners!
Morris Arboretum
Bees are buzzing all around the Arboretum! This year’s scavenger hunt features LEGO® bees constructed by members of ColonialLUG (Registered LEGO® Users Group). Use the online map and see if you can find them all. Be sure to check out the motorized bee and flower in the Gift Shop window.
Look at what’s In Bloom!
Self-Guided Tours – Introductory, Garden Highlights, Great Trees, Japanese Elements, Architecture, and more.
Nature Play is every day in the  Sculpture Garden at Morris Arboretum. The concept of Nature Play is to give children space to discover the wonders of the natural world in an intuitive and unstructured way. Nature Play is a specific, designated area that gives kids space where such behaviors were previously ‘not allowed.’
Hop, squirm, buzz, flap, and scamper your way around the Arboretum with animal guides. Learn how plants and animals support one another along the way! Completing all five activities will take you on an approximate 1.0 mile walk around the Arboretum. Most sites can be seen from the stroller and wheelchair accessible paths, but one animal leads to a grassy and hilly area.
Awbury Arboretum
Awbury’s natural materials playground- a mixture of structures, paths, and loose materials that invites families to play in nature. This innovative, sustainable playscape engages children in creative, imaginative, and active discovery. Kids are free to have fun and learn, experiment and discover, all while exercising and enjoying the outdoors!
Through Fall 2020, AdventureWoods is free and open to the public Saturdays & Sundays from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM. (Weather permitting)
Cost: Free!
More info HERE
The Farm is always free and open to walk and explore – but now on Sunday afternoons we will have the Philly Goat Project goats ready to greet you and Awbury staff on hand to answer your questions. Stay tuned for additional fun activities as the summer progresses! 2:00 – 5:00 PM every Sunday during the summer and early fall.
More info HERE
Bartram’s Gardens
ZOOM August 4 – 14, 2020
Consistently in print since it was first published in Philadelphia in 1791, William Bartram’s remarkably unique text and travels played a prominent role in shaping hundreds of years of American literature.
Professor William Cahill invites us to investigate the readability of this historic text personally and collaboratively. Join us for a three-meeting test run of what will eventually be a full-length course. This mini-test-run of the class is FREE and open to all. Classes will take place on Zoom.
More Info HERE
August 13, 2020
As we enjoy the end of long summer evenings, let’s paint the blooming Franklin tree together, live! A rare plant native to southeastern North America, the Franklinia alatamaha was named for Benjamin Franklin and saved from extinction by the Bartram family.
Teaching artist Heather Rinehart approaches fine art through her love of science and history. She has a professional background in illustration and design and a deep interest in nature and storytelling, offering her student’s instruction in multi-disciplinary place-based art.
More info HERE
Please forward! And don’t forget to tag us on social media, @chconservancy on Facebook and Instagram and using the hashtags #HistoryatHome, #chconservancy, #commonground, #together, #wegotthis
Stay well, and keep in touch.
is made possible by our generous members and supporters
Chestnut Hill Conservancy 2020 Lead Sponsor
Chestnut Hill Conservancy 2020 General Sponsors
Always feel free to contact us with any questions about the Conservancy, our programs and events, or your membership at info@chconservancy.org
Chestnut Hill Conservancy | 8708 Germantown AvenuePhiladelphia, PA 19118