VOL.

20

NO.1

JANUARY, 1945

MORTON ARBORETUM
JOY MORTOI'J . FOUNDER

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LISLE, ILLINOIS

BULLETIN OF POPULAR INFORMATION

THEY WEAR THE SNOW WITH A DIFFERENCE Weather is the Master of Ceremonies under whose show­ manship plants take their turns in the spotlight. Each changing mood points out a specialist. The best performer in dew is probably a lupine leaf; in hoar frost, it is ironwood; and in sleet, the beaded curtain of weeping willow twigs. In the wind the best performer is the white pine; but in a breeze it is the trem­ bling aspen, or silver poplar; while in the thirsty wind of a summer drought it is cottonwood, making the sound of rain on the roof. The place on which prevailing westerlies write their permanent record most plainly is a row of willows. A slow spring rain makes the best blue-gray setting for the pale yellow of hazel catkins, but a fall rain achieves its triumph when it blackens the trunks of red oak "in contrast with the brilliance of fall foliage. But these are passing moods of weather compared to snow. In this winter of much snow we realize that it is well to be surrounded by those good companions that meet the winter with charm, as well as those that offer spring, summer, or

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fall display. Among our native trees, perhaps white oak, bur oak, haw­ thorn, and ironwood hold the snow most pleasingly. These

trees are alike in having a tendency to horizontal branching, but each of them has individuality in holding the snow. The wide-spreading vigor. of white oak receives it, like all weather, serenely, effortlessly; and the bulging biceps of the bur oak with its corky twigs and rough bark make the snow seem a sweater pulled carelessly across the shoulders of a full-back between quarters. On the hawthorn the snow IS a loosely crocheted shawl of wool, but on the ironwood it is precise lacework. -The evergreens have distinctive ways with snow. Those flat overlapping shelves mark Colorado spruce, while the next tree proclaims itself Norway spruce by its manner of holding snow on its ridges and letting it slide from pendent twigs. The hem­ lock accepts it as an unnecessary adjunct to her sufficiency of grace, and lets it slide from relaxed finger tips. White pine turns its needles down like a fringe below the snow, but mugo pine keeps its needles erect, uplifting neat muffins in its fingers. '.

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But for all the beauty of snow on our evergreens we must .not let it lie too heavily, or broken branches will mar future formal symmetry. True, in the north woods and on the moun­ tain tops, they bear their snow without man's interference, but how few of them are symmetrical in old age, or need to be. Especially do the saucer-shaped evergreens, such as yew,. common juniper, and Pfitzer juniper, -need help to prevent breakage. Some fruits that persist through the winter have interest­ ing ways with the snow. Each brown raceme of ninebark wears an elf cap. And high-bush cranberry offers brilliant clustered drupes a la mode to any itinerant flock of cedar waxwin:gs, the only birds that seem to appreciate them..
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Some Norway maples and box elders hold characteristic snowy knobs along their trunks. The rhododendron hardly offers a foothold to snow, but it is a good living thermometer for just outside the window to help one decide whether to wear that extra sweater. When each leaf curls back and points straight down, it is best' to wear it, and warm mittens, too. But when the leaves rise 20° from the vertical, it is safe to unwind the mufflers. When the' leaves rise above 45° f;rom the vertical, water-proof boots will be useful. Others that refuse to hold the snow are white birches and weeping willows. The white birch does well to eschew this rival that turns the birch's own much-advertised whiteness to pale yellow. But the ragged bark of river birch holds handfuls of it, enhancing its own coppery tones. Other colors that profit by contrast with the snow are the red buds of linden, hawthorn, silver maple, and the fruits of the many-flowered rose; the brown leaves of white oak, and bayberry; the lavender bloom on arching canes of red rasp­ berry; the orange inner bark of hawthorns; the cinnamon bark of Scotch pine branches; and the green twigs of spice bush and sassafras.
MAY THEILGAARD WATTS

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BOARD OF TRUSTEES
MRS. JOSEPH M. CUDAHY, Chairman MARK MORTON STERLING MORTON . WIRT MORTON MRS. ERNEST A. HAMILL II ERNEST A. HAMILL 11* JOHN A. HOLABIRD CLARENCE E. GODSHALK
Director

JOSEPH M. CUDAHY DANIEL PETERKIN, JR. ROY M. NORDINE
Propagator

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E. LOWELL KAMMERER*
Arboriculturist

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MRS. RAYMOND WATTS
Natura list

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*Now serving in the armed forces.

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