Friday, December 19, 2014

Some Horticultural History: Dogwoods at Princeton Battlefield

Here's a little story that shows how the past can enrich the present and inform the future. Two years ago, I was over at the Princeton Battlefield, in that immense mowed field on the north side of Mercer Road (the side with the columns), and noticed a pattern in the wooded edges of the field.

It's most obvious during April, when these flowering dogwoods advertise their position, but you can see it as well in the autumn when their leaves turn radiant colors.

The dogwoods are spaced all around the edge of the field, but on the left side they've been completely overgrown by vines. It's a matter of time before the shade and weight of the vines weaken and ultimately kill the trees.

Hopefully, a workday to cut the vines can be arranged soon with the Friends of Princeton Battlefield. Recent Veblen-related research of old newspapers has solved the riddle of who planted the trees and when, and may provide further impetus for action to save the beautiful trees. Turns out the trees were donated back in 1976 by the Dogwood Garden Club, which still exists. Among its current projects is care of one of the gardens near the Princeton swimming pool entry. The relevant text from the article is in bold.

Town Topics, 2 December 1976
The annual Christmas Auction and Bake Sale of the Dogwood Garden Club will be 5 held Thursday, December 9. 1 in the home of Mrs Michael ; Jensen, 18 Riverside Drive ' West Co-hostesses will be Mrs William Alston, Mrs. Joseph Pierson, Mrs. Richard Olsson and Mrs. Frederick Wightman Jr. Mrs. Dudley Clark will serve as auctioneer. All articles to be auctioned have been made by the members and all proceeds will be used in cooperation with the Mercer County Park Commission to continue the restoration and maintenance of the memorial garden around the home of Mrs. Oswald Veblen in Herrontown Woods. In honor of the Bicentennial the club recently gave 25 dogwood trees to the Princeton Battlefield Preservation Society to be planted on the grounds. 

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