Tour Guide-led Walks Enlighten Visitors
|Samantha Buck is an Interpretation Intern for Public Education.|
Recently, I took a Forest Tour with the very knowledgeable Garden Tour Guide Ken Lloyd. For those of you who don’t know what a Garden Tour Guide is, as I didn’t, they are expertly trained volunteers who are essential to the Garden’s success.
It was a nippy day to say the least, especially since I was unprepared for the tour and as such hadn’t dressed in layers as I normally would have had I known (I take pride in my preparedness being a Mainer born and raised). So off I went with Ken in my dress pants and sneakers, braving the chilly air and our runny noses to explore some of the trees in the Garden.
Our first stop was at the umbrella pines that, as Ken pointed out, were planted in the very early 1900s. Their red-colored bark and multi-stemmed trunks made them a unique stop on our adventure. Just past the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, we stopped at the Chinese elms along the road. Ken explained how Dutch elm disease, an introduced fungus, had decimated the American elm population. He also stated that there are some elm species that can be treated for the disease and others that are resistant to it.
On entering the Forest, I felt I was in the most peaceful place in the city. The Forest is kept as natural as possible—there is no snow removal from the paths, no native trees are cut, and life is allowed to take its course. However, invasive species that encroach the area are removed and fires that start are put out. None of the descriptive signs I encountered elsewhere on the Garden grounds were present in the Forest, but Ken was able to discern the species from their bark or the form of the tree itself, by the way the branches grow and the shape of their buds. The only signs present were placed only on a few trees in order to track changes that occur over time. Volunteers record these changes once a month.
I also learned the reason why the trees aren’t any bigger or older in the Forest, despite the lack of human involvement. During the last Ice Age, a fair bit of the soil was removed by glaciers and deposited into the ocean. As a result of this shallow soil, it is difficult for the trees to establish a good root system that would allow them to reach monstrous heights.
I highly recommend taking one of The New York Botanical Garden’s many Tour Guide-led tours—it was definitely one of the highlights of my internship here. I learned a substantial amount despite my damp, cold feet. Just be sure to dress appropriately for the weather so you’re able to immerse yourself completely in the experience.
A guided Forest Tour will be held on Saturday, January 31, at 12:30 p.m. Meet at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center.
Check out Saturday’s programming.
Check out Sunday’s programming.