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Summer 2014

Summer 2014


leaves Summer 2014

Cait Anastis, Editor Jackie Klisuric, Graphic Design

administration Clement W. Hamilton President and CEO Jim Ansberry Director of Finance David Burke Research Department Chairman Roger Gettig Director of Horticulture and Conservation Brian Parsons Director of Planning and Special Projects James F. Pelowski Interim Director of Development Paul C. Spector Director of Education and Public Programs Nancy Spelman Director of Human Resources and Safety

contents features

board of directors JACKIE KLISURIC


4 8 6 The Holden Wildflower Garden 9 Bird Bio 10 Partnerships 12 Plant This, Not That 11 Volunteers 17 Ask Charles 14 It’s Not Easy Being Green 18 Research Holden’s Bluebirders

Celebrating 50 years with our volunteers

Plant Profile

Betula nigra (river birch)

More than just a pretty place

Red-winged blackbird

Illumination at Woodland Twilight

Ampelopsis brevipedunculata ‘Elegans’

Release Your Inner Goblin

The effects of environmental change on amphibians

News and Highlights

On the Cover: Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)

Paul R. Abbey, Chairman Jonathan E. Dick, Vice Chairman Robert R. Galloway, Vice Chairman Sarah L. Gries, Vice Chairman Joseph J. Mahovlic, Vice Chairman C. W. Eliot Paine, Vice Chairman Stephen J. Knerly, Secretary Thomas D. Anderson Barbara Brown Christopher A. Cullis Paul E. DiCorleto, PhD Peter S. Hellman Michael C. Marino Cynthia A. Moore-Hardy

Ellen W. Jones Nordell Robin Schachat Lynn C. Shiverick K.K. Sullivan Timothy L. Swanson Michael T. Victor Ann T. Whitney

directors emeriti Constance Norweb Abbey Ralph W. Abelt Jeanette Grasselli Brown Miriam N. Gale Henry R. Hatch Arlene M. Holden-Loftin

T. Dixon Long Henry L. Meyer III William J. O’Neill Jr. John Sherwin Jr. Penelope Theis

honorary directors Anne M. Clapp Mary Groves Alison C. Jones

Thomas W. Seabright Helen Whitehouse

Volume 12, Number 3 ©The Holden Arboretum Leaves (ISSN 0518-2662) is a class and events magazine published quarterly by The Holden Arboretum for $10 per year for members (included in membership fee) and $55 per year for nonmembers Periodicals postage paid at Mentor, Ohio




Postmaster: Please send address changes to Leaves: The Holden Arboretum, 9500 Sperry Road, Kirtland, Ohio 44094-5172

from the president


Every so often someone reacts to the phrase “living museum” in Holden’s mission statement. It usually runs something like, “I don’t think of you as a museum, you’re much too beautiful and interesting for that.” While I certainly appreciate such kind words, I find it interesting that the word “museum” still evokes “stuffiness” in many persons’ minds. There are almost as many definitions of museum as people who have written on the subject, but one aspect that most share is the fundamental importance of owning collections – or, as I think of them, Collections with a capital C – objects of intrinsic historic, cultural, artistic or biological value that fit the theme and support the mission of the museum. Furthermore, those collections are formally accessioned, or numbered and catalogued. And when a museum divests itself of any collections items, all revenue so generated must be utilized solely for the acquisition or nonroutine care of collections, if one is not to run afoul of the American Alliance of Museums’ (AAM) Code of Ethics. By those standards, Holden certainly is a museum, and is so certified by the AAM, for our woody plants, library special collections, wood samples and even our “wood artifacts” such as our 500-plus nutcrackers.


Okay, off of the soap box. By the time you read these words, last winter’s remarkable snow will have melted (I hope!) and you may see evidence of our next wave of New Leaf capital projects getting underway: the Canopy Walk and Emergent Tower, and the ecological restoration of Corning Lake and Lotus Pond. I hope you enjoy following our progress, as well as visiting last year’s newly opened Paine Rhododendron Discovery Garden and Norweb Tree Allée, whose maturing trees and thousands of new bulbs will make for an ever changing display. Thank you for sharing our excitement, for your dedication to our mission and for your generous partnership that makes it all possible.

Clement W. Hamilton, PhD President and CEO

Summer 2014

The above paragraph probably did nothing to dispel the “stuffiness” curse, so let’s ponder how an outstanding museum uses its collections to engage people, to advance knowledge and to improve the world. Consider our woody plants, comprising one of the richest arboretum collections in the world, whose existence helps conserve both the natural and horticultural diversity of woody plants. But think also of the stories they tell on Holden’s grounds: how plants have evolved; how trees reach such immense size; how they interact with each other and with other organisms, from birds to butterflies to fungi; how they can be hybridized and manipulated to give us outstanding garden plants; how they provide ecosystem services – such as energy conservation, storm water control and carbon storage – to make our communities more livable; and how beautiful they are, from 50 yards away to under a microscope. In short, we use our collections to transform our visitors’ worldview, to evoke wonder and to inspire action on Nature’s behalf – and that’s what makes a great museum.



The Need All wild populations will fluctuate from year to year in response to a wide variety of factors, including food supply, predation, competition and weather. Human intervention is rarely justified in response to these fluctuations. However, when human activities create a problem, it is sometimes necessary for humans to fix the problem. In the case of the eastern bluebird, humans can be faulted with a large part of their population decline. And, happily, we can be credited with their recovery as well. A list of our crimes against the bluebird include hunting, egg collection, habitat destruction, increased car traffic – and the associated road kills – pesticide use and introduction of nonnative competitors. The recognition of these mistakes has allowed conservation-minded individuals to find ways to repair the damage. Banning of DDT and regulations on the use of other chemicals, the creation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, efforts to control the populations of non-native house sparrows and European starlings, and creating or improving habitat have helped a wide range of native bird species, including bluebirds. The Holden Arboretum entered the world of bluebird conservation in the early 1960s. Those early volunteers installed more than 200 nestboxes across Holden’s then-2,800 acres. Under the careful eye of Virginia Barrus and Jean Eakin, the conservation effort became more rigorous and scientific in 1965. Since that time, we have collected data on every nest attempt by any bird using one of the nestboxes.

Celebrating 50 years with

Holden’s Bluebirders by Mike Watson, conservation biologist

The eastern bluebird is generally considered one of the most stunning native birds in Ohio. As Jim McCormac of the Ohio Division of Wildlife wrote, the “male eastern bluebird is an avian work of art.” Here at Holden, these little works of art are on display year round, thanks to the incredible commitment of an army of volunteers. This year marks the 50th year of data collection for Holden’s Bluebird Program. For all their efforts, success and the thousands of fledglings, the volunteers deserve a


huge thank you and congratulations.


The early years of Holden’s bluebird program appear to have been frustrating. Low fledgling numbers, competition with the non-native house sparrow and other challenges must have been disheartening. But the dedicated group of volunteers learned from their experiences and succeeded over time. Between 1985 and 1995, the number of bluebird fledged each year skyrocketed. Rather than 80 or 100 new bluebirds each year, by 1995 the program was producing more than 300. I consider the last 20 years to be our period of stability. There have been substantial yearly fluctuations. But overall we are not seeing the rapid growth seen during the ’80s and ’90s. We have reached a point where we are saturated with bluebirds; we are simply not equipped to support more nesting pairs without adding more nestboxes. We do, however, watch for small ways to improve the program. For example, in 2008 our volunteers built and installed more than 200 predator baffles, dramatically reducing the number of eggs and chicks lost to raccoons and snakes each year. To date, Holden’s program has fledged more than 10,000 bluebirds. Clearly, we have had a substantial impact on the local population simply in terms of those new bluebirds. There are other impacts that should also be acknowledged. For example, many of our volunteers have installed nestboxes on their own property and encouraged others to do the same. One former volunteer has installed a 66 nestbox trail on his neighbor’s property. The birds fledged from his nestboxes further boost the local bluebird population. We have had a regional impact as well. Holden staff, volunteers and former volunteers have helped install new trails at the Inn at Honey Run, Lakeland Community College, Perry Schools, Wickliffe High School and Lake Metroparks Environmental Learning Center. I am currently working with Ursuline College to establish a bluebird program that will be incorporated into its ornithology coursework. Holden volunteers are a local and regional source of information and support to anyone interested in joining the bluebird conservation effort. And Holden’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. Edith Conzett, the volunteer coordinator for our bluebird program, received the Ohio Bluebird Society’s Wildlife Conservation Award in 2006. Jay Brindo, a former Holden bluebird volunteer, and I are on the board of the Ohio Bluebird Society.

Our Volunteers: Although we refer to this effort as the Holden Bluebird Program, Holden’s contribution has largely been the land and permission to install nestboxes. Staff from conservation, education and our volunteer office have helped attract new volunteers, maintain communication, celebrate the program’s successes and provide other kinds of support. But the origin and success of the program must be attributed to the hard work of our volunteers. I like to think of the program as a volunteer effort that Holden has been lucky enough to host.

Many volunteers enjoy being part of a larger project and contributing to science. All of Holden’s data are analyzed on a yearly basis, which contributes to our understanding of the local bluebird population. Data are submitted to Cornell’s NestWatch program, which tracks nesting attempts by thousands of birds from roughly 150 species across the entire United States. So Holden’s bluebird volunteers really are contributing to a large and scientific effort. Ohio reports more bluebird nest attempts to NestWatch than any other state.

The following (very rough) estimates will give you a sense of the amount of effort these bluebird volunteers have given to the program since 1965: ‰‰ Total time spent monitoring nestboxes: at least 60,000 hours ‰‰ Total time spent crunching the numbers and submitting data: at least 5,000 hours ‰‰ The value of the time Holden’s bluebird volunteers contributed (calculated at a rate of $22.14 per hour, which is the rate set by Independent Sector) is $33,210 in 2013 alone.

These numbers are just one way to summarize the volunteer efforts. Our volunteers measure their effort and success in the number of native birds fledged: more than 10,000 bluebirds and nearly as many tree swallows. They also value the experience, connection with nature, friendships, and other aspects of the bluebirding experience. In fact, to get a better understanding of our volunteers and their relationship to the bluebird program, I sent out a questionnaire this winter to current and past volunteers. The questionnaire included questions about the best and worst aspects of bluebird monitoring, as well as whether being a bluebird volunteer changed their relationship with nature.


New volunteers join the bluebird program each year. And all of those new volunteers train with an experienced volunteer. The expression of delight on the faces of new volunteers when they first see recently hatched chicks is one of the best aspects of the bluebird program, according to one long-time volunteer. Although most of the bluebird volunteers already had a strong interest and love for nature, many did report that bluebirding changed their relationship with nature in some way. Most often, they report an increased interest in birds, a deeper understanding of the rhythms of nature, or that it provided a way to bring nature to their family by sharing the bluebirding experience with relatives. One volunteer was able to hike the trail with her father during the final year of his life. This was particularly meaningful for her, since it was her father who first took her on hikes and instilled in her a love of nature when she was a child. Bluebirding offered the opportunity to share that love of nature with her father again.


By and large, the volunteers said that the worst part of bluebirding was when a nest attempt fails. Nest attempts fail for a number of reasons: starvation, excessive heat or cold, disease, predation and even human interference. We try to minimize these problems as best as we can, but chicks still do die and eggs fail to hatch. Although nest failures are never fun, the good things about bluebirding certainly outweigh the bad.

So where would we be without this volunteer effort? Holden might never have started a bluebird conservation program. The local bluebird population would not be nearly as healthy as it is now. We would not have the impressive dataset and collection of knowledge and experience that the volunteers have collected over the years. And no one could point to Holden’s bluebird program as an example of a successful, grassroots conservation program. Humans have contributed to the decline and extinction of many, many species of plants and animals, and it’s important to know that the hard work of a group of volunteers can make a big difference at the local and regional level.

The aspects that volunteers like best about the bluebird program generally fit into broader categories such as experiencing nature, contributing to something bigger, direct connection with birds, social interactions with staff and volunteers, the opportunity to learn something new, and the sense of accomplishment for a job well done. Summer 2014

Blue-birders start the season in late March or early April and work until August or September. Being out in nature during this time period is one volunteer’s favorite aspect of the bluebirding experience. The volunteer described watching the emergence of spring and how the trail changed as the season progressed into summer.



The Wildflower Garden

More than just a pretty place by Ann Rzepka Budziak, horticulturist

“Do you suppose she is a Wildflower?” asked the Daisy of Alice (From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll). The Myrtle S. Holden Wildflower Garden began in 1968 and was made possible by a generous donation of the Arthur S. Holden Jr. family in honor of his mother. The site was chosen for its close proximity to Holden’s visitor center, and its general terrain, which is well suited for a woodland garden. The Holden Wildflower Garden has grown throughout the years not only in size, but also in concept. The initial intent of the garden was to display wildflowers found on Holden property; today the garden has evolved into something much more complex. While the thought of a wildflower garden may seem like an oxymoron as wildflowers are typically defined as plants that grow independently in haphazard locations, this is not the definition Holden intended when it elevated the garden to a horticulture collection in the 1980s. Within the Holden Wildflower Garden are beech trees and spicebushes, bellflowers and bluebells. These are native trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. Holden defines ‘native’ as a species occurring within Ohio prior to European contact. According to the best available scientific and historical documentation, these species are indigenous and occur in natural associations and habitats that existed prior to significant human impacts and alterations of the landscape. The wildflower garden at Holden takes the ‘native’ definition to a level beyond most other public gardens and in order to conserve the genetic diversity of Ohio’s native species, plants are not purchased for the garden. Rather, they are propagated by seeds, spores or vegetative cuttings collected from species of known origin within the state. As a reminder, this is not something that should be done by the average homeowner as taking seeds and plants from the wild is illegal. Holden’s wildflower gardeners obtain appropriate permits and from local, state and federal (if the plant is federally endangered) entities in order to collect these propagules. The only areas of the wildflower garden that plants are purchased for are the mixed perennial border beds called the Pennington Beds. These beds face the Display Garden and border the south and east edge of the Holden Wildflower Garden. The Pennington Beds are designed to demonstrate how native plants and their cultivars can be used more traditionally in a home landscape.


While the Myrtle S. Holden Wildflower Garden has elements of beauty to offer in every season, spring is most spectacular and will give you a glimpse of some of Ohio’s most elusive flowers – spring ephemerals. Ephemeral means lasting for a short period of time. These plants leaf out, flower, seed and then go dormant before the heat of summer sets in.


By the time buds burst into leaves on the trees in the garden, the symphony on the forest floor will have already reached its crescendo. Skunk cabbage, one of the earliest bloomers, usually appears in March, peeking through the snow. Marsh marigold and Virginia bluebells soon follow. Trilliums and trout lilies march



down the woodland hillside and wild hyacinths dance with ostrich fern fronds under the paw-paw trees throughout the floodplain. As you take in the beauty of the spring ephemerals from one of many resting places within the Holden Wildflower Garden, you may feel more like you are in the woods rather than in a garden: this is intentional. The garden itself is designed to represent habitat areas found in Ohio and these habitats demonstrate significant plant communities that can be found throughout the state. If you don’t know what a plant community is, you are not alone. Plant communities are groups of plants that share a common environment. These plants interact with each other, animal populations, and the physical environment. TOBY DAVIDSON Some of the plant communities that can be found in the wildflower garden include a woodland, floodplain, bog, dune, prairie and rockeries. Not every Ohio habitat is represented as there are too many and space in the garden is limited to five acres. The Holden Wildflower Garden also displays and conserves rare and endangered plants. More than 400 of Ohio’s 1,800 native plant species can be found throughout the garden and more than 100 of those 400 plant species are listed as state endangered or threatened. The garden acts as a gene pool repository for these species. This safeguards the genetic integrity of these declining plant populations, provides a seed bank for immediate and future restoration needs and creates a safety net against extirpation – local extinction, when a species ceases to exist in the geographic area, but may still exist elsewhere.

The Holden Wildflower Garden also displays over a dozen of federally endangered plant species as a participant in the Center for Plant Conservation (CPC). The CPC is a national organization dedicated to preserving rare and endangered plants throughout the United States by securing wild-collected seed. Some of the CPC species displayed in the garden are diminutive and easily overlooked, but Phemeranthus rugospermum (prairie fame flower) and Tetraneuris herbacea (lakeside daisy), are show-stopping. Regardless of size or beauty, all plant species play an important role in their intended ecosystem and it is the intent of the wildflower garden: to educate the visitor by displaying native plants in the communities in which they naturally occur, to demonstrate that wildflowers are not only beautiful but that they have intrinsic value, to preserve Ohio’s genetic biodiversity, and to be more than just a pretty place. PICTURED ARE CALTHA PALUSTRIS (MARSH MARIGOLD), FAR LEFT; ERYTHSONIUM AMERICANUM (TROUT-LILY), TOP; TETRANEURIS HERBACEA (LAKESIDE DAISY) LEFT; ASCLEPIAS TUBEROSE (BUTTERFLY WEED), BELOW.

Summer 2014

Holden utilizes the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Natural Areas and Preserves (ODNR – DNAP) Ohio Biodiversity Database (OBD) to determine which plants are considered threatened throughout the state. The OBD has been maintained by ODNR – DNAP since 1976 and contains a comprehensive list of all the rare plants, animals and natural communities in the state. Native populations of plants with few locations remaining in the state make up the Rare Native Ohio Plants Status List. This list is updated every few years. The data from the OBD is compared to Holden’s plant community survey

data annually to determine which of these species occur on or adjacent to Holden property. Holden staff members monitor 38 populations of state-listed species to assess increases and decreases in population size, determine how successional changes in the environment alter these populations, and to calculate the percentage of flower and fruit set. The wildflower horticulturists use this monitoring opportunity as a time to collect seed so that these threatened plants can be protected and displayed in the wildflower garden.



Betula nigra

River birch by Ethan Johnson, plant records curator

A tree that merits attention, river birch has a graceful habit with arching slender branches and attractively peeling young bark. Betula nigra is native to Ohio, but can be found in the southeastern states, primarily along streams, but also by ponds and wetland habitats. It grows as far south as Florida and eastern Texas, and it range extends north into the Mississippi River watershed to Wisconsin and southern Minnesota. Populations can also be found along the Hudson River in southern New York, as well as in eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. In the landscape, river birch is planted both as a singletrunked tree and multi-trunked specimen. Although the multiple-trunked trees do display more attractive bark in a smaller area, they are decidedly less structurally sound and more prone to have trunks break during storms. At The Holden Arboretum there are 80 river birches including cultivated varieties. ‘Heritage’ was selected by Earl Cully of Illinois for showy bark; ‘Dura-Heat’ is reportedly from a northern Florida seed source; ‘Summer Cascade’, selected by North Carolina nurserymen, has a weeping growth habit; ‘Graceful Arms’, selected in Wisconsin, has a semi-weeping, broad-spreading habit. All are in the Display Garden. River birches increase in height from 1.5 – 2 or as much as 2.5 feet per year during their first 20 years or so. Betula nigra ‘Summer Cascade’ by the west side of Lotus Pond measured 12’ tall by 7’ wide eight years after being having been trained to that height from a 5” rooted cutting. Betula nigra ‘Fox Valley’ has a growth rate of about 8” per year and ‘Tecumseh Compact’ is a slower growing shrub-like selection. Both may be found between the first two parking lots by the Corning Visitor Center. A river birch southwest of Corning Lake measured 60’ x 58’ after 56 years from seed received from the Morton Arboretum near Chicago. Mature trees suh as this one have less attractive trunks displaying none of the buff and cinnamon hues that make the young ones so appealing. Betula nigra is the only species of birch to shed its seed in spring, in early June at Holden. Pollen is commonly shed between mid and late April, but in the unusually warm spring of 2012 our trees started flowering on March 27. Unfortunately, the pollen of birches and other members of the birch family, Betulaceae, is a significant contributor to allergies. River birch grown from seed at Holden has begun flowering and fruiting at about 15 years. Leaves expand in May but in


continued on page 15




Red-winged Blackbird

(Agelaius phoeniceus) by Rebecca Thompson, Growing Students in Science program coordinator

Red-winged blackbirds are one of the most abundant birds found across North America. They can be seen in flocks in all months of the year in some parts of their range and are considered one of the true harbingers of spring in Ohio. During the breeding season they can be found in fields, ponds, marshes and occasionally in wooded areas along waterways. In fall they congregate in agricultural fields, pastures and grasslands. Red-winged blackbirds are omnivores. They forage over different areas including mud, floating vegetation and grassy fields. Sometimes they will even pry open an aquatic plant at its base, probing for insects hidden inside. During the breeding season their primary food is protein-rich insects. In fall and winter they primarily eat seeds including ragweed, sunflower, corn and grains. During breeding season, which ranges from February to August, male red-winged blackbirds establish a territory and attract a mate by singing from a prominent perch. They spread their wings and flash their orange and yellow shoulder patches, hoping to impress a female. Males will fiercely defend their territories for more than a quarter of daylight hours. Females choose a mate mostly based on the quality of the territory. continued on page 17


bird facts Range Southern Alaska, at its northern-most point to the Yucatan peninsula in the south, and from the Pacific coast of California including Canada to the Atlantic.

Size 6.7–9.1 in; Wingspan: 12.2–15.7 in

Voice Call gurgling “oak-a-lee.” a dry “chek” and

“cheer.” Song starts with an abrupt note that turns into a musical trill and often includes a raspy “conk-a-ree.”

Best location to view at Holden Corning Lake, Strong Acres, Blueberry Pond and Buttonbush Bog

Summer 2014

Description Males, glossy black with red-and-yellow shoulder patches. Females, pale with dark brownish streaks




Celebrating 30 Years of our Summer Benefit

Celebrating our 30th

Anniversary By James Pelowski, interim director of development

The Holden Arboretum will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of its annual summer benefit in 2014. In 1981, the highly acclaimed movie “On Golden Pond” was released to glowing reviews. Picking up on the success of the movie, Molly Offutt, the development officer at Holden at the time, initiated the first summer benefit in 1984 and dubbed it “On Holden Pond.” The success of that first benefit equaled the success of the movie and for 24 years the summer benefit was named “On Holden Pond.” Always held in July, attendees experienced gourmet dinners, bid on wonderfully diverse silent and live auction items, socialized with friends and neighbors, and in the early years danced until late in the evening to big band orchestras. It was then, and is now, a summer event not to be missed! On that first benefit planning committee were Connie Abbey, Joe and Kathy Mahovlic, and Penny Theis. In those early years, the proceeds from the benefit were designated for pond restorations at Holden. In 1998, the proceeds were applied to a lecture series fund and from that time on various projects, gardens, educational programs, and special events have received the benefit’s net proceeds. It has been estimated that the benefit has netted between $2 and $3 million dollars over that 30-year time-span.






In the past few years, the benefit has been renamed “Woodland Twilight,” highlighting Holden’s focus on trees and woody plants. Tom and Mary Anderson are co-chairs of the 2014 benefit. Tom is a member of the Holden Board of Directors and Mary is a volunteer at Holden. The 2014 Woodland Twilight benefit is scheduled for July 12. New this year, we are planning an after-party in a contiguous tent with live background music to enhance conversations and special activities. Those making reservations for the benefit are encouraged to stay for the after-party as a part of their Woodland Twilight registration. For people who wish to attend only the after-party, a reduced ticket price will be offered. Again, this year the silent auction items will be available online at Holden’s website starting June 27, 2014. For more information and/or an invitation to the 2014 Woodland Twilight benefit, please contact Alicia Soss ( or Jim Pelowski (

Release Your


Inner Goblin by Robin Ott, volunteer coordinator

Every year during the first weekend in October, thousands of little princesses, witches, superheroes and other creatures (along with their parents) descend upon Holden for Goblins in the Garden. This is Holden’s largest event, drawing over 8,000 people last year, offering families with young children a safe and family-friendly way to celebrate Halloween and spend time outside in nature. Attendees come from all across Northeast Ohio to enjoy the themed “not too scary” trick-or-treat trail, crafts, wagon rides, the cornstalk maze through the Hedge Collection, a straw pyramid climb, the Scarecrow Row display and more. In keeping with our family-friendly atmophere, admission is very affordable – less than $20 per carload – for less than the cost of a 3-D movie for two you can bring the entire family out for hours of fun! One of the unique aspects of Goblins in the Garden is the great community support and involvement that it takes to put it on. It is funded with the help of a grant from the Lake County Visitor Bureau Arts and Culture fund, and sponsored by First Merit Bank. Scarecrow Row provides an opportunity for local groups, area schools and businesses to get involved and promote their organization by creating a themed scarecrow out of recycled materials to be displayed for the event and week following. All Scarecrow Row participants are rewarded for their efforts with complimentary passes to the event that they can use themselves or share with others. Finally, this event truly would not be possible without the tremendous efforts of the volunteers who help with its creation, set up, staffing and tear down. Last year, more than 170 volunteers contributed almost 1,000 hours to make it a success! This year, why not join them?

This year’s Goblins in the Garden event will take place on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 4 and 5, 2014. Teams of volunteers will start working in August to develop or update the stations along our trick-or-treat trail. Using mostly recycled or repurposed materials, they choose one of the themes and create the decorations and props that will be the backdrop for the costumed characters passing out candy. At the end of August, the Holden volunteer office will begin recruiting teen and adult volunteers to help with all of the activities. Teens and adults are invited to be the costumed characters on the trick-or-treat trail. Adult volunteers are needed to help facilitate crafts and the various activity stations – apple cart, wagon rides etc. – or assist with admissions, shuttles and parking. Other volunteers will come out the week before to help with set-up – putting up all the decorations and distributing hundreds of pumpkins and cornstalks throughout the property – or on the following Monday to help tear things down. Volunteering at Goblins in the Garden is a great opportunity for teens to earn community service hours, and all volunteers enjoy complimentary snacks and refreshments to keep their energy high. No long-term commitment is required – this is an excellent opportunity to try volunteering at Holden. There are two volunteer shifts each day of the event – a morning shift and an afternoon shift. Teen volunteers may only serve one shift per day; adult volunteers are welcome to volunteer a full day if they prefer. Whether you serve one or both days of the event, we promise that everyone who helps will be handsomely treated with lots of big smiles from the little witches and warlocks in attendance.


If you are interested in being a part of a Trick-or-Treat station team, contact Peg Weir, manager of special and private events, at or 440.602.3854. Teen and adult volunteers who would like to help at the event should contact the Holden volunteer office after Aug. 15 at 440.602.8003 or to request a sign-up and parental permission (if under 18) form.

Summer 2014

Want to get involved in this year’s event?


plant this not that

by Eva Rodriguez, education intern

Thousands of plants have been introduced to the United States from other parts of the world. Some have come here accidentally in seed stock, while others were brought here intentionally for horticultural use. A small number of these introduced plants have gotten a little too comfortable in their new environment. Because they have no native predators and produce a lot of fruit and seed that are efficiently dispersed, they are invading natural areas. The aggressiveness of these invasive plants affects natural areas and wildlife by decreasing biodiversity, competing with native and rare plants and eliminating wildlife habitat and food sources. Plant This, Not That features a list of native alternatives to a commonly used landscape plant that has become invasive. The alternatives were chosen because their characteristics – form, flowers, fruit or fall color – are similar to that of the invasive and fulfill the same landscaping need. Plants that are native to Ohio are recommended when possible as native species are generally well-adapted to local climates and provide additional resources for wildlife. However, there are many non-native plants on the market that are also non-invasive and possess great ornamental value.

The Invasive

Ampelopsis brevipedunculata ‘Elegans’ (porcelain-berry) Ampelopsis brevipedunculata is a deciduous woody vine that is soon to be a common sight along stream banks, forested and disturbed areas in Northeast Ohio if we are not careful. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, it can ascend 20 feet in just one growing season. A. brevipedunculata looks strikingly similar to the native Vitis labrusca (fox grape); however, when given a closer look, their differences are crystal clear. A. brevipedunculata has deeply furrowed, three-lobed leaves. Its unobtrusive green flowers that bloom in midsummer make way for dazzling turquoise-blue berries that mature in late summer or early fall. The brilliant blue berries glow against the foliage making them attractive not only to birds but to people as well. Introduced into North America in the 1870s, A. brevipedunculata became popular as a landscape plant. A. brevipedunculata is native to northeast Asia, Japan and Korea. Not long after its introduction to North America, its presence was cemented into the landscape, Porcelain-berry fruit and foliage. quickly spreading and Jil Swearingen, USDI National Park Service, overrunning open and wooded areas. Aside from its darling beauty and its ability to attract native birds, it is well adapted to Ohio’s climate and soils and is commonly free from native pests and diseases. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has placed this species on the invasive species watch list, meaning that it has the potential to wreak havoc across the state.


There are many reasons why A. brevipedunculata is an invasive species. Like most plants that bear small berries, birds eat and disperse their seeds, allowing them to colonize new areas. This plant can also spread through vegetative means and does not have to rely on seed dispersal agents. A. brevipedunculata ‘Elegans’ is a variegated version that is still commonly sold at nurseries because it is not as aggressive, according to the Plant Conservation Alliance. However, variegation is just a particular gene of the original plant; the variegated cultivar can produce seeds that are similarly as green and vigorous as A. brevipedunculata, a plant that outcompetes native vegetation for light and nutrients and decimates important food sources for wildlife.


Porcelain-berry Infestation.

Steve Manning, Invasive Plant Control,

The Alternatives Parthenocissus quinquefolia ‘Variegata’ (variegated Virginia creeper) If you are thinking of planting something that exhibits the same exuberant beauty as A. brevipedunculata but provides so much more to Ohio’s native species, then P. quinquefolia is the native vine for you. Virginia creeper, like porcelain-berry, has small green flowers through the summer and bears bunches of bluish-black berries in late summer/early fall. However, unlike A. brevipedunculata, the fall foliage is extraordinary, turning a fiery red and contrasting with its dark colored fruit. Variegation adds a splash of white to create a multicolored leaf.

Parthenocissus quinquefolia fruit and foliage. Mary Holland

P. quinquefolia is the perfect plant for your yard or garden. Once established, it can scale walls and trees using adhesive disks attached to its tendrils without any additional support such as a trellis, wire, or netting. According to the U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service, P. quinquefolia can grow in partial to full sun, has an extensive root system that helps control soil erosion, and can even tolerate the salt that has leached into the soil after winter. Not only is this plant hardy, but its valuable berries will attract beautiful wildlife to your yard. P. quinquefolia also hosts four species of sphinx moths, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. While P. quinquefolia ‘Variegata’ is variegated, it is still a fast-growing vine that can rapidly smother surrounding vegetation. Therefore, give it space to climb or pruning will be required to keep it under control.

Parthenocissus q. ‘Variegata’ fall foliage. Bill Hendricks

Lonicera x italica ‘Harlequin’ (Harlequin honeysuckle) If you thought A. brevipedunculata was appealing, just wait until you learn more about Lonicera x italica ‘Harlequin’. This non-native, non-invasive honeysuckle is the perfect addition to the home landscape. Its clusters of flowers burst out in colors of rose and yellow during May and irregularly throughout the summer. The Royal Horticultural Society said that despite their limited blooming season, L. x italica ‘Harlequin’ flowers are astonishingly fragrant, attracting numerous hummingbirds and butterflies in search of their sweet nectar. Its flowers have wider openings than other honeysuckle species to allow stout bumblebees to harvest nectar and pollinate the plant.

Summer 2014

Lonicera x italica A.J. Laros

Do not let the unpredictable flowering season dissuade you from planting Lonicera x italica ‘Harlequin’ around your home! Due to this plant’s tolerance of partial shade and its white-banded leaves, harlequin honeysuckle can provide a splash of color in normally shaded areas. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, harlequin honeysuckle prefers well-drained soils so that it can withstand heat and humidity better than it already does. Lonicera x italica ‘Harlequin’ has the potential to outcompete other plants, but taming it as a vine or even as a bush or shrub is not difficult. This variegated honeysuckle cultivar is available at local garden centers and nurseries. Plant Lonicera x italica ‘Harlequin’ and watch the wildlife gather before your very eyes.



It’s not easy being green:


The effects of environmental change on amphibians by Katherine Krynak, graduate student

Amphibians, which includes frogs, salamanders, and caecilians (worm-like amphibians), have been around for a long time – a really long time – more than 350 million years! This group has survived four mass extinctions including the fall of the dinosaurs. Today, however, this group of animals is declining at a rate estimated to be upwards of 2,700 times the background extinction rate (the rate in which species normally go extinct). What is causing these alarmingly rapid declines? Generally speaking, habitats are changing more rapidly than amphibians can adapt. Disease-causing pathogens are one of the known leading causes of amphibian declines and extinctions and undoubtedly, the ease of global travel has contributed greatly to pathogen translocation. The constant barrage of newly introduced pathogens is consequently changing the environment in which amphibians live. Therefore, in order to conserve this class of animals, we need to improve our understanding of amphibian health and disease susceptibility.

Seeing is not always believing …

Scientists have found that within that slime layer on amphibian skin, there is a whole new ecosystem made up of microbial communities that we are just beginning to explore and understand. Some of these microbes help to prevent disease by producing metabolites that destroy pathogens; some may provide a physical barrier to transport through the skin, while other microbes may just be along for the ride. Many amphibians themselves also produce antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in their skin. These are proteins that work to prevent and cure skin infections. These AMPs are secreted onto the skin, adding to the “superness” of amphibian slime. Examining how such traits are altered by human induced environmental changes may help us to better understand disease-related amphibian declines and how to prevent them. With assistance and expertise from David Burke, PhD, of The Holden Arboretum’s Research Department and my advisor Michael Benard, PhD, of Case Western Reserve University, my research focuses on how human caused environmental changes may be altering these amphibian skin-associated immune defense traits.

Does super slime have a kryptonite? Certain changes humans make to the environment may have consequences to amphibian health that have yet to be examined. One example is our use of glyphosate-based herbicides approved to control invasive aquatic plant species. Categorized as “practically non-toxic to aquatic organisms,” based on acute toxicity studies, these herbicides are used to control species such as narrow-leaved cattail in ponds where many species of amphibians and their offspring (tadpoles) reside. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in many herbicides, work to impede plant growth by halting the plant’s ability to make amino acids. The effects of such approved aquatic herbicides on amphibians have gone largely untested, but


Amphibian health is often measured by examining characteristics (traits) that we can easily see and assess, such as survival of offspring, the time it takes for a tadpole to reach metamorphosis and size; but do these traits tell us enough about amphibian health? When we think about our own health, we typically think about how strong our immune system is. When we get sick, many of the signs of illness are not easily seen and require additional testing of our immune defense traits, such as a CBC blood test, which measures total white blood cell counts in our blood. Amphibians also have immune defenses, but they wear their primary defenses on their skin. Since amphibians have permeable skin, they need to have a way to prevent pathogens from entering their bodies with the water/air they absorb and the ability to prevent infections on their skin. And they do have a way to protect themselves from pathogens; they have skin slime.

Super slime!



the inhibition of amino acid production may also alter the AMPs produced by amphibians. Examining how immune defense traits are altered by our use of herbicides may help us to better understand how such changes to the environment may be making amphibians more susceptible to disease. To address this, we are examining the effects of a commercially available glyphosate-based herbicide on the northern cricket frog, Acris crepitans. In the past 30 years, cricket frogs have declined precipitously in the northern part of their range and are listed as endangered or threatened by extinction in multiple states/provinces. Working with a population of cricket frogs from Wood County Park District (Wood Co. Ohio), we are examining how the timing of this herbicide’s application and the concentration of this herbicide may alter the skin-associated immune defense traits of cricket frogs. These analyses will be conducted at Holden’s Horticultural Science Center this year, and we look forward to sharing the results.

Should we use herbicides to manage invasive species? In choosing the right management technique for controlling invasive plants and animals, there are always costs and benefits that must be weighed. Species like narrow-leaved cattail can grow so thick in ponds where cricket frogs reside that this nonnative plant not only chokes out native plant species, but it can also become uninhabitable for cricket frogs. My hope is that this research aids wetland managers and private individuals alike in their analysis of the realized, as well as possible, costs and benefits of differing invasive species management strategies.

Additionally, this research will provide important basic information on the effects of this herbicide on cricket frog survival, growth and development. Thus far, our analyses suggest that at concentrations commonly found in the natural environment following application (generally ≤2.5mg a.i./L), this herbicide does not alter the time it takes for cricket frog tadpoles to reach metamorphosis, nor does it alter juvenile mass, but just 2.5 mg/L of the active ingredient (glyphosate) does significantly decrease tadpole survival to metamorphosis. Additional studies should be conducted to determine if postponing application until after the tadpoles have meta morphosed may limit overall mortality due to herbicide exposure. Furthermore, it is important to note that all glyphosate-based herbicides are not the same. Additives in many herbicides, such as surfactants which help the herbicide to adhere to the vegetation, have also been shown to negatively affect multiple measures of amphibian health.


plant facts Light

Soil type

Full sun

Moist to seasonally wet, acidic

Mature size

Best location


55’-65’ tall, possibly more, by 50’-60’ wide

USDA Zones 4-9

Local garden centers

Betula nigra (continued from page 8) 2012 started to emerge from bud on April 20. In October fall color is yellow, but not particularly bright like many other species of birch.

Most Eastern North American bottomland trees cast dense shade, but river birch does not and is therefore a particularly good companion for a number of shrubs, ground covers, herbaceous perennials, bulbs and wildflowers. Witness the river birches in the Arlene and Arthur S. Holden Jr. Butterfly Garden, on the west side of Blueberry Pond, in the Myrtle S. Holden Wildflower Garden and in the valley garden at Lantern Court.

Summer 2014


The showy white-barked species of birch, when subject to drought, produce a substance that attracts the native bronze birch borer, but river birch is not susceptible to this deadly pest. At Holden, the mortality rate for river birch has been one in 10, but for the white-barked birches, about four out of five have died. Betula nigra transplants easily in spring or fall and has a fibrous shallow wide-spreading root system that is adaptable to most soils including fine textured clay. It can grow in extremely acidic soils, even in mine spoils, but in alkaline conditions the leaves will become chlorotic (yellowish due to a shortage of chlorophyll). During drought, river birch commonly shed interior leaves. During the summer of 1991, the birches lost up to two-thirds of their foliage.



Charles by Charles Tubesing, chief horticulturist


My landscaper wants to prune my tree. It was just planted two years ago and hasn’t grown that much. Wouldn’t it be better to just let it grow naturally?

The process of propagating and culturing a tree in a nursery is an artificial, not a natural, process. A tree that represents a cultivar (named variety) has been propagated by grafting or from cuttings. These methods of propagation often give rise to a tree with two or more leaders (main stems), unlike the single main stem normally produced by a seedling. Extra leaders are not always removed in the nursery. Large-growing trees with multiple leaders are structurally weaker and prone to breakage as they mature. It is best to remove the extra leaders while the tree is smaller. Trees are pruned and trained in the nursery to produce a compact, denser crown than would naturally occur. This is done in part to facilitate shipping, but also to produce an appearance that is considered more attractive for sale. The end product is a young tree with a number of closely spaced branches. If some of these branches are not removed over time, as they increase in diameter they will

come into contact with each other. This will prevent their continued expansion at the points where they emerge from the trunk, weakening their attachment and making them more prone to breakage when stressed by wind or a load of snow or ice. The primary goal in pruning and training a young tree is to select and space what will eventually become the main branches of the mature tree so that one does not overshadow another or impinge as described above. This is accomplished step by step over several years. This is not a highly technical practice and can be accomplished by any homeowner who is comfortable with using a saw. Instructions with illustrations for pruning young trees are available at treecareinfo.aspx


Vicki McDonald

Marketing and Public Relations Specialist What do you like about your job? I love working with people. I feel lucky to work at such a beautiful place and to be able to do work for an organization that is doing great things for our regional and global communities.

What did you do before you came here? Prior to working at Holden I spent two years with my family in South Africa. I volunteered, taught yoga and traveled. Before my brief career hiatus, I worked in marketing at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

What is your favorite site on the grounds? My favorite site on the grounds is probably the Helen S. Layer Rhododendron Garden. I love the tall, mature rhododendrons, the quiet pond and the solitude of that space.


What do you do when you’re not at work?


I spend time with my husband and two children, teach yoga and enjoy Cleveland’s lively arts and culture scene.

What do you think people find most surprising about Holden? After they get over the sheer size of Holden, I think people are surprised to find out that Holden has such a strong research program. We are known for quality education programming, but I don’t know if the community realizes Holden has a science and research program focused on studying and protecting trees and forests.

Red-winged blackbird (continued from page 9) Red-winged blackbirds are highly polygamous. Males may have as many as 15 female mates, however nearly one-quarter to one-half of nestlings are raised by some other male than the territorial male. Recent genetic studies also have shown that females bear offspring from not just the territorial males. However, both territorial males and females choose the nesting site. Females typically build their cup-like nests of grasses, mud and decayed vegetation low among wetland plants such as cattails, bulrushes and sedges or among plants in drier habitats such as goldenrod, blackberry, willow, alder, wheat, barley and alfalfa. Typically females incubate two to four blue green-gray, brown streaked eggs for up to 13 days. Although males sometimes help, females are the primary caretakers of the fledglings. Young birds fledge the nest in 10 to 14 days and are fed by the female for two to three weeks more. Juveniles typically reach sexual maturity in two to three years. Since 1966, based on North American Breeding Bird Surveys, Ohio has had one of the highest breeding season densities of redwinged blackbirds compared to any other state. However breeding populations in certain areas, such as the farmlands of Ohio, have seen significant reductions, as much as 50 percent, over the past 30 years. This decline could be related to habitat loss due to changes in farming practices and increased urbanization. The vast number of insect pests consumed by these birds, as well as their willingness to breed even in small wetland habitats, argues for protecting even the smallest wetland habitats in Ohio. A FEMALE RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD

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Summer 2014

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Research News and Highlights News Students learn about the importance of trees by studying fossil plants. JULIANA MEDEIROS

On Feb. 27 Holden hosted the first ever Trees Matter Summit. This new program was organized by Sharon Graper of Holden’s Education and Public Programs Department, with funding provided by the Ohio Environmental Education Fund. The summit was designed to teach middle and high school students about the importance of trees to their communities, their own personal well-being and to the earth. In addition, students learned how they can create a greener school campus. Students attending the summit received instruction from experts in forestry, environmental science and ecology. One of the experts who presented at the Trees Matter Summit was Juliana Medeiros of Holden’s research department who presented a workshop at the summit entitled “Why do trees matter to the Earth?” In this workshop students learned about carbon sequestration using fossil plants from one of the most fascinating periods in geologic history, the Carboniferous period, or “coal age”. Students made thin sections of Carboniferous trees found in a form of low quality coal known as lignite, also called “brown coal”, which contains the fossilized remains of plants and trees. The carbon contained in the lignite has been sequestered deep below the Earth’s surface for more than 300 million years. The lignite was made available to Holden by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.






Highlights Forest responses to global climate change since the last ice age. In a recently accepted paper in the prestigious journal Ecology Letters, Holden scientist Juliana Medeiros and collaborators from the University of Kansas sought to answer the question: do plant species and families vary in physiological responses to global change? Studies such as this are critical for understanding the mechanisms that cause changes in plant species distributions across geologic time. The study investigated changes in photosynthetic physiology for a variety of trees and plants from a mixed conifer forest in the Snake Range Mountains of central Nevada, a community that underwent significant changes in community composition over the past 30,000 years. The results indicate that the photosynthetic physiology of most

plants was altered in response to changing conditions since the last ice age. However, plant families and species differed in the timing and magnitude of these responses. In fact, the responses were more similar within families than within co-occurring communities. This suggests that plant evolutionary history has been more important than plant physiology in determining plant community composition over recent geologic history. The paper is entitled Evolutionary history underlies plant physiological responses to global change since the Last Glacial Maximum, by Katie M. Becklin (University of Kansas), Juliana S. Medeiros (The Holden Arboretum), Kayla R. Sale (University of Kansas) and Joy K. Ward (University of Kansas).

Do low intensity fires reduce shrub encroachment in southern Ohio oak barrens? Land managers often use prescribed fires to maintain open structure and herb layer diversity in fire prone ecosystems, such as the oak barrens of southern Ohio. However, burning under conditions that generate low severity fires can actually facilitate woody plant encroachment, possibly because these fires stimulate shrub sprouting. In a paper recently accepted by the journal Restoration Ecology, Holden scientist Sheryl Petersen and Paul Drewa (Case Western Reserve University) report the results of a five-year study in southern Ohio oak barrens where small experimental burns were compared to clipping treatments (cutting above ground stems) to test if low severity fires better control unwanted woody plants as compared to clipping. The study found that both treatments killed shrub stems, but shrubs

rapidly grew new stems from underground organs. This caused a temporary reduction in shrub cover, but did not change stem densities. Further, the diversity and abundance of herbaceous species was not affected by treatments, but was affected by seasonal changes in precipitation. Thus, burning under marginal conditions may not reverse invasion of these oak barrens by unwanted woody plants. Land managers may need to avoid burning under some conditions and utilize other methods for shrub control. The paper is entitled Effects of biennial fire and clipping on woody and herbaceous ground layer vegetation: Implications for restoration and management of oak barren ecosystems, by Sheryl M. Petersen and Paul B. Drewa.



A photo identified as a Louisiana waterthrush in the spring 2014 issue of Leaves magazine is actually a northern waterthrush. We apologize for the error.

Summer 2014



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Leaves Magazine Summer 2014  

Leaves Magazine is the quarterly publication of The Holden Arboretum, focused on horticulture, conservation, education and ecological resear...

Leaves Magazine Summer 2014  

Leaves Magazine is the quarterly publication of The Holden Arboretum, focused on horticulture, conservation, education and ecological resear...