Apr 30th, 2011

Meadowmorphosis: Where do these sticks come from?

Note: Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is working in concert with the  Virginia Department of Forestry to harvest  young red maple saplings in Chesterfield County and sweet gum saplings  from Hanover County for “Meadowmorphosis” a stick sculpture installation at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden that will be created May 2-22 and here to be enjoyed for years to come.  Ellen R. Powell, Conservation Education Coordinator for Virginia Department of Forestry was kind enough to explain  why harvesting young trees can sometimes be beneficial to the environment.  If you’d like to learn more about forestry in Virginia, please visit the Virginia Department of Forestry blog.

by Ellen R. Powell, guest blogger, & Conservation Education Coordinator Virginia Department of Forestry

The Virginia Department of Forestry is working with Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden to help harvest young trees that artist Patrick Dougherty will sculpt into one of his amazing “stick” sculptures. You might be thinking that cutting down perfectly good trees for the sake of art is a wasteful activity. Not so with this project! First, remember that trees are a renewable and sustainable natural resource. When forestry is being practiced, trees are either replanted after harvest, or allowed to resprout or reseed naturally. In this case, the trees being removed are red maples that sprouted after a timber harvest about 10 years ago. Most forest landowners prefer to encourage other species, such as pines or oaks, depending on their site and goals. These desirable trees benefit from the removal of nearby trees that compete for the same resources. In eastern Virginia, those competitors are often red maple and sweet gum trees. Unfortunately, on many sites, a “release” of the crop trees is too expensive and time-consuming, and it just doesn’t happen. So, removing the maple sprouts from this site creates a win-win situation for both the landowner and the artist – and ultimately for all of us who will get to see the sculpture!

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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