Tree Trail Continues to Grow

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Photo by Susan Canavan

The Tree Trail in the East Fields offers a beautiful frame for the Holcomb Farm barn in the distance.

Now entering its third year of development, the Holcomb Farm Tree Trail is really taking shape. The entrance, off Day St. South near its intersection with Simsbury Road, will soon host an information kiosk, and more interpretive signs and maps are planned. We asked Eric Lukingbeal, one of the principal architects of this wonderful and educational development, to share some information on what you may see if you take a walk there. Here’s his update:

“One of the design principles at the Holcomb Tree Trail is to plant some trees that are not usually seen. That is why we planted an amur maackia (Maackia amurensis) last fall. Most people have never seen one.

The newly-planted maackia shows its spring green, and holds the promise of flowers later this summer. Photo by Eric Lukingbeal

“This tree is unusual in at least two ways. First, it is a summer bloomer, usually in mid to late June. The flowers are fragrant and white, in six-inch panicles. By that time, most of our other bloomers—the Cornelian cherry dogwoods, the Eastern redbud, and the Sargent cherries—are long past. Our one red horse chestnut hangs on until late May. It’s in bloom now. We do have two other summer bloomers, the Japanese tree lilac, and the Kousa dogwood.

“The second way the maackia is unusual is, as leading authority Michael Dirr’s says, that it is “a tough little cookie.” It seems to prefer harsh and cold conditions, tolerates high and low pH soils, and is a nitrogen fixer to boot. It helps build its own soil nutrients.

“A native of Korea, Northeast China and Manchuria, its leaves are pinnately compound, 8 to 10 inches long, and unfurl in a striking silvery gray color that eventually turns dark green. Fall color can be a good yellow, but we shall see. Ours is about seven feet tall, and should reach 25 feet, but slowly. It was sourced as a bare root tree from Rare Earth Nursery in Cazenovia, N.Y.”

So, take a walk on a beautiful summer day and look for the maackia, which will be labeled. Many thanks to all the volunteers and donors who are making this trail come alive. If you didn’t have a chance to contribute to our recent Tree Trail campaign, it’s never too late. Go to holcombfarm.org/holcomb-tree-trail/ and click DONATE.

The Eastern rosebud on the Tree Trail is showing off. Photo by Susan Canavan