Neighbors Next Door Dr. John Abbuhl | Naturalist By Caroline Barrett
At Pine Hollow Arboretum it’s all about the trees and Dr. John Abbuhl likes to talk about trees. He talks of the many different species and the places around the world they come from: trees that thrive and grow to be 100 feet tall; trees that don’t take to the soil; trees that die before the first winter. He talks about a nurse log that dies, falls and rots on the ground. This rotting log acts as a host to many different plants, providing a place for saplings to grow. You can see a nurse log, and many other trees, on a guided tour of the Pine Hollow Arboretum. The arboretum is open every day of the year, free to the public, and tucked away, right in Slingerlands. Guided tours by founder/ owner Dr. Abbuhl and other volunteers are by appointment. Pine Hollow arboretum is beautifully located on approximately twentyfive acres with miles of trails and twelve ponds. Before there was an arboretum there was abandoned farmland. Just as Dr. Abbuhl sees the fallen log as a bed for saplings, he saw the land there as a place for trees - many, many trees. Since beginning work on the arboretum in 1967, he’s put over 3,000 plants in the ground, dug the ponds and created the numerous trails. The Pine Hollow Visitors Center sits on Maple Ave in Slingerlands and is the place to access all of the arboretum’s trails and splendor. Starting out from just behind the center, the trails leads down a gently sloping hill to Side Pond, the first of the ponds. Just beyond is Mid Pond, and on clear sunny days the waters sparkle and reflect the towering spruce trees that sit between them. Passing through the spruce trees, Chestnut Grove comes into view and Front Pond stretches out, framed by fir and other trees, and dotted with lily pads. Orange fish create movement among the peaceful trees and slip gracefully between the reeds and lilies. The tree plantings at Pine Hollow are thoughtfully arranged, and while wandering the trails, visitors pass by Japanese Hill, Oriental Glade and the glorious Magnolia Field. 20
Dr. John Abbuhl, a retired pediatrician, spent more than fifty years caring for children at Schoolhouse Road Pediatrics. He and his late wife raised four children in their home at the edge of the arboretum. Now remarried and with ten grandchildren, Dr. Abbuhl devotes his time to family and the trees. Dr. Abbuhl proudly states, “Our motto is: Trees in a Natural Environment.” He stresses that the arboretum is a place for the trees to be seen and enjoyed, but not a place for trees to be in a manicured environment. His goal for every tree is to create a setting where it can reproduce, reach its ultimate height and be healthy. To achieve this goal a certain amount of neglect is necessary. He explains that manicuring and treating lawns for pests isn’t the best environment for a tree. “When we do away with the insects, the birds don’t come. The trees need the birds,” he explains. The arboretum was created with the idea that people need to be closer to nature. He worries that people don’t go into the woods as often as they should. Pine Hollow Arboretum is a place for people to be close to nature, to be in touch with it. Dr. Abbuhl says, “If you do away with everything natural, you are doing away with life!” Life is abundant in Pine Hollow. The plantings go on, with no plans to stop. His trees and plants come from all over the world. He looks for trees that will survive in this climate. Many trees come from catalogs. Some have come from one of his sons, a rock climber who often brought trees back from his climbs around the world. One tree Dr. Abbuhl himself brought back from the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. On a hike there he came across an old nurse tree, fallen and resting on the earth. The sapling he brought back, a Citrus Spruce, now stands twelve feet tall.
“If you do away with everything natural, you are doing away with life!” “The nurse tree was a huge thing, six feet across and 100 feet long. There were 10,000 saplings growing on it. I took just one. It wasn’t bigger than my hand and I put it in my pocket.” This is said with pure joy and wonder. “Now that tree is hardy and healthy,” he adds. But other trees purchased from catalogs have turned out to be not so fortunate and have died. You never
Redwood and the Giant Arborvitae. The leaves are just beginning to turn and soon the trees will be bare. While remaining open, the arboretum will be mostly quiet. Dr. Abbuhl will be there though, walking among his trees and dreaming of warm spring days when he can plant another sapling, find another nurse log, and watch all of nature’s beauty in Pine Hollow Arboretum.
Pine Hollow Arboretum 16 Maple Ave Slingerlands, NY 12159 518.439.6472 Open every day Please park on the grass Visitors Center open on weekends depending on staffing Guided tours available by appointment Handicap accessible To learn more about or for membership information visit: pinehollowarboretum.com pinehollowarboretum.blogspot.com Know a Bethlehem neighbor who has a unique story? Let us know! Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org Photo by Alan Casline
know, he tells visitors, just what you are going to get when you plant a tree. The Visitors Center is an important part of the arboretum. Purchased in 2008, it is a public building, a place for gathering, and a starting point for entering the arboretum - sort of nature’s front door. Beautiful in its own right, the center is done in clean European style complete with a kitchen, a fireplace and a large meeting space. When Dr. Abbuhl is asked what his vision for the future of the arboretum is, the answer is simple. “More visitors.” The Visitors Center is open to all non-profits for meetings and workshops. Currently, there are monthly poetry readings, school programs, historical district society meetings, and even yoga. Dr. Abbuhl hopes that more small non-profits will come and use the space. The survival of the arboretum, he says, depends on public support via memberships and contributions as well as the efforts of volunteers. All are welcome to visit the Pine Hollow Arboretum. It’s open every day, all year long. The Visitors Center is open only when they can staff it with volunteers, but the trails are always available and the trees are waiting. Walking through the trails, the beauty of this special place surrounds those who visit. Right now is a perfect time to walk among the Eastern White Pine, the Carolina Hemlock, the Port Orford Cedar, the Dawn Photo by Alan Casline
Trish’s Pix from
Tattered Pages Used Books
Dear Fellow Readers…
I received more comments about last month‛s Our Towne than any other! So many people took notice of my darling “Seamus” featured in the “Around Towne” section. Seamus loves attention almost as much as a “tummy treat”. I am not sure how the women featured in the other photos felt about sharing the spot with my adorable dachshund! The other comments received had to do with my thoughts regarding State Ed and the changes in the teaching of ELA in our schools today. There was resounding support for my comments. Thanks! I strongly believe that as parents, we hold the awesome responsibility of being our child‛s most influential teacher. With the demands of today‛s education standards and the time allotted during the day to instruction, so much still falls to the parents. We need to set the example and make the time in our student‛s busy day for reading/writing daily outside of the classroom. If you are ever in need of assistance in finding a book for your student, don‛t forget that we have thousands of books, non-fiction and fiction, in our children‛s section. If you have a trade credit account with us…you can easily find 2 books for less than the price of a gallon of gas! How many times have you heard the question recently, “Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?” Four years ago seems like a lifetime to me as I reflect! May of 2008, Barbara & Larry Boord became the owners of Tattered Pages (formerly Tea & Tattered Pages) and I became the fulltime manager. In the past we received honorable mention in the Times Union “Best of the Capital District” for used book stores. This past year, we were chosen “Best of the Capital Region” in Capital Region Living magazine. I started writing for Our Towne, Bethlehem 4 years ago and since then I have seen thousands of people come in to the shop and have made wonderful new friends. In conjunction with AnimaLovers, we had cats live right in the shop 58
until they were adopted. We found 17 cats homes with our bookshop friends over the years! I had the pleasure of owning “Riley”, my first long-haired miniature dachshund, who became our first official greeter dog. He was quite the charmer! “Seamus” came to that position with the passing of my Riley in January 2011…and day that I am here, Seamus is here. We have collected money and donated hundreds of items for our soldiers in conjunction with Blue Star Mothers of the Capital District. (Barb, Larry and I have a total of 4 children currently in the military) Over the years we have donated thousands of books to various organizations and charities. Besides helping to keep America green and well read…we have stayed community centered and community supportive. Just recently we donated boxes of books for raffles to the Glenmont and Hamagrael PTA. Are we better off than 4 years ago? We are better off for the people we have met and assisted. The stories told over the counter and the discussions in our little living room nook are worth their weight in gold! However, sadly, they do not pay the bills! We are a small, locally owned “Mom & Pop” shop that depends on our customers and the word of mouth from those satisfied customers. We are on Facebook and have a website www.tatteredpages365.webs. com. We are approaching the 6th year of the shop being here in Glenmont and we are asking our loyal friends & customers to continue to spread the word about our bookshop. Two of the most asked questions in the shop are: “How long have you been here?” and the second, “How has the Kindle/Nook affected your business?” We certainly are aware of the impact of the e-reader to our sales…but… we are also affected by the price of gasoline…the economy in general…and the fact that we have such