The Tree Nursery at the Armstrong Education Center
In Pound Ridge, virtually zero native tree seedlings are able to survive on the forest floor because of consistent browsing by white tailed deer. This is one of the reasons why the forests floors are very open and you can see a great distance through them. For the long-term persistence of the local forest, white tailed deer are a serious threat. Without new trees, the amount of trees in it will become fewer and fewer. As the forest understory becomes sparser, the birds, mammals and amphibians that rely on it will be severely out of luck.
That’s why we have started a small native tree nursery at the Armstrong Gardens- still in its infancy of course. With it, we demonstrate that 1) growing trees is easy and inexpensive and 2) forests of the future rely on our active involvement now. Of course, we cannot grow enough trees in our nursery to plant an entire forest, but we can grow enough trees for specific planting projects. Our homegrown nursery trees will be used for the following:
Ecosystem protection: Japanese Barberry, an invasive shrub, currently grows along one side of the Armstrong Preserve’s vernal pool. Planned removal of this barberry will result in a barren opening leading to the vernal pool. Ideally, the vernal pool would have a buffer of woody plants around it to prevent soil erosion and moderate the temperature of the pool’s water. To achieve this buffer we will plant a row of small trees where the barberry now stands. In examples like this, a few homegrown trees can make a real difference to a sensitive habitat like a vernal pool.
Landscaping: Like most homes, the Armstrong Education Center has intentional landscaping around it. Choice trees may be grown in our nursery and planted near the Armstrong House where they can add to the aesthetic quality of our residential experience while providing native animals with habitat and food.
Erosion control: In our nursery, we grow fast growing trees (American elm and black locust) to plant in sloping areas of potentially high erosion. Tree roots hold soil in place while the tree’s trunk slows down flowing surface water.
Building material: Eastern red cedar is a prized outdoor building material because it is naturally strong and rot resistant. These trees were very common in Pound Ridge after our historic fields and farms were allowed to grow into forests. These trees do not grow well in the shade of our current forests and are becoming locally rare. We grow this tree in our nursery for future building material.
Tree Nursery at Armstrong in its infancy.
Where did our trees come from?
Many of the trees in the nursery are taken from the wild during their first summer. They will remain safe from deer behind a fence for roughly 4 years before they are planted back into the wild. Once planted in the wild, they are likely to require small protective fences until they are large enough to be out of the deer’s browsing range. If these trees were not removed from the wild and placed into our nursery during their first months of life, hungry white tailed deer would eat them. This method of saving trees is easy and should be done by landowners concerned about our forest’s future. Growing our own trees is also a less expensive alternative than buying them from nurseries.