From the Director's Desk: Preserving the Legacy of Fred Lape

By Fred Breglia

More than a half-cen­tu­ry ago, Fred Lape start­ed with an idea: to grow every species of woody plant from tem­per­ate regions around the world that would sur­vive on his farm­land in Schoharie Coun­ty. Slow­ly, over the years, his plant­i­ngs devel­oped into what today is the George Lan­dis Arbore­tum. Here, one is priv­i­leged to find mature spec­i­mens of oaks and conifers (col­lec­tions that are nation­al­ly rec­og­nized), as well as many exam­ples of trees native to both the North­east US and oth­er continents.

The his­toric Fred Lape plant­i­ngs at Lan­dis will be a focal point for us over the next few years, thanks to dona­tions gen­er­at­ed by our 2018 Annu­al Appeal and fund­ing from the Iro­quois Pipeline Com­mu­ni­ty grant, the Schwab Foun­da­tion, and the New York State Office of Parks, Recre­ation and His­toric Preser­va­tion — the last through a Zoo, Botan­i­cal Gar­den and Aquar­i­um (ZBGA) grant.

The ZBGA grant specif­i­cal­ly pro­vides mul­ti-year fund­ing to care for and main­tain the Arboretum’s hor­ti­cul­tur­al col­lec­tion. This includes four-sea­son main­te­nance and upkeep.

The Schwab grant has allowed us to keep our col­lec­tion records up to date through the pur­chase of a new BG Base com­put­er installed with the lat­est soft­ware. Since last spring, a team of vol­un­teers has been meet­ing week­ly to enter tree infor­ma­tion such as new plant­i­ngs and plant deaths. This grant has also allowed us to replace many of the lilacs plant­ed by Fred Lape that suc­cumbed to a dead­ly pathogen. A new site, gen­er­ous­ly fund­ed by Bar­bara and Art Cole­man, will re-estab­lish this his­toric col­lec­tion.

In June of 2018, Lan­dis was award­ed an Iro­quois Pipeline Com­mu­ni­ty grant. This grant will con­tribute to the recla­ma­tion of over­grown areas, the instal­la­tion of drainage cul­verts in wet areas, and the fer­til­iza­tion and win­ter pro­tec­tion of our spec­i­mens. The grant will also per­mit us to place new plant labels in areas along the Fred Lape Trail, the Farm­house, and in the Cole­man Lilac Col­lec­tion.

These grants and con­tri­bu­tions from you and oth­ers allow us to ful­fill Fred Lape’s dream. While we have had to remove some lega­cy spec­i­mens due to their decline or death, oth­er spec­i­mens have been redis­cov­ered” in unde­vel­oped areas. For exam­ple, many paw-paw trees (Asim­i­na trilo­ba) had become lost in the brushy area near the main park­ing lot. These very healthy native spec­i­mens are now show­cased and will per­haps bear fruit in the fall, an event many plant enthu­si­asts will enjoy. Sim­i­lar­ly, a small grove of per­sim­mon (Diospy­ros vir­gini­ana) has been uncov­ered, as well as a few more Buck­leya dis­ti­chophyl­la – a rare and remark­able plant found in few oth­er loca­tions.

We are com­mit­ted to active­ly pre­serv­ing our hor­ti­cul­tur­al her­itage, thus mak­ing the George Lan­dis Arbore­tum a vital orga­ni­za­tion with roots in the past, grow­ing into the future.

Spring 2019

Volume 37 , Number 1

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