In this Issue...
Alec Jones is gone, ECSONG has a new nut grove and its own Internet name, details of the new nut grove, a call for help for the Fall Field days, rescue efforts continue for our native butternut, the giant Texan bur oaks are doing well so far, free English oak seedlings available, two notes in the Science Corner, our parent SONG writes with thanks for our hospitality for their AGM and congratulations on our work, and Kathleen Harrison writes of the memory of one of our earliest award winners.
Alec Cobden Jones 1916-2001
It is with great sadness and sense of loss that we report Alec's death, on June 7, 2001. He died peacefully at the Starwood Nursing Home in Nepean, Ontario.
As most of you will know, Alec was the co-founder in 1978 of ECSONG, which he led for most of its formative years, and continued to inspire its accomplishments until very recently. He served variously as Secretary, Chairman, and as the chair of a number of special committees from time to time. Many of the ongoing programs of ECSONG were ideas Alec originated.
One can visit the ECSONG Web site for a partial record of his many nut tree related accomplishments. He worked hard at nut tree growing at his own place in Lanark County near the town of Merrickville. The cold, thin soil and dry conditions make this site difficult, but his many kinds of nut trees planted there still soldier on. For those who knew Alec well, a visit to his personal webpage might be inspirational.
Many years ago, Alec pledged himself to supporting world-wide reforestation, emphasizing the restoration of nut bearing plants - because of their multiple values to many creatures, not just people. Over the years, he has done much in pursuit of this goal, as evidenced by his contributions as a member of many like-minded organizations. He promoted the work of the Northern Nut Growers Association Inc., the Canadian Chestnut Council, the American Chestnut Council, and the International Oak Society, just to name a few. He was an awarding-winning member of the Ontario Forestry Association. Alec was the first Chair of ECSONG's Dominion Arboretum Liaison Committee. He was also a staunch member of the Friends of the Central Experimental Farm (FCEF). With both roles at his disposal, he contributed to the revival of Canada's Dominion Arboretum, with its national nut tree collection. He helped organize and manage the FCEF Tree Team which through ECSONG member Ernie Kerr, surveyed and mapped the entire Arboretum grounds, enabling a modern computer database to be set up that will eventually document every specimen tree on the site.
In honour of Alec's contribution specifically to nut tree and nut crop growing in Eastern Ontario, and with his prior enthusiastic approval, the Alec and Kathleen Jones Foundation has been established. This charitable Foundation will award an annual $300 academic prize to the college student in the Eastern Ontario region submitting the best paper on nut culture in Canada. ECSONG has been chosen to select each year's winner. As the value of the Foundation grows over the years, the prize value could increase, and additional prizes may become possible. If you would like to support the Foundation's work, a tax-free donation will be gladly accepted. Please make the cheque out to Community Foundation Ottawa, and write "The AKJ Foundation" in the memo line. A receipt will be issued for donations over $20 Canadian. Send the donation to: The Community Foundation of Ottawa, 75 Albert Street, Suite 301, Ottawa ON, Canada K1P 5E7. To learn more about the AKJ Foundation, visit the Foundation's Internet site.
Alec was very proud to be a member of ECSONG, and to have been a major contributor to its success. His legacy will live on and thrive. To quote Mark Schaefer, "Well, that's it. The end of an era!" Alec will be missed, and for years to come.
The Nutters' Bus Tour
ECSONG is organizing a day-long, nutseed collecting bus tour to selected sites in Eastern Ontario. This is a biennial event which is much enjoyed by its participants. This year's itinerary is not yet finalized, but you can be assured it will be both exciting and fruitful! Members, family and friends are all welcome. Adults $25, children 12 or under free. Bring your own lunch and refreshments. Find enclosed the Nutters Bus Tour Registration Form, with details of the tour on the back. The tour travels on a comfortable intercity-sized bus with toilets and PA systems. Presentations enroute between stops. We expect to visit four or more exemplary nut sites on this tour. Seating limited - register today! For more information, contact ECSONG 231-4224
A New ECSONG Nut Tree Grove
On Thursday May 10, a group of NRC employees energised by Murray Hunter gathered to plant a grove of five nut trees in memory of Dr. Ferrers Clark, a director in two divisions of NRC. The trees were donated by Kurt Wasner and are planted in a C for Clark.
A week later, Ferrers' widow and family joined three directors-general of NRC and a crowd of well-wishers at the formal dedication of the grove.
Since I live a 5 minute walk from the grove and frequently exercise my alumni access to CISTI's book shelves, I'll keep an eye on the trees for ECSONG. So far, the watering crew is performing yeoman service - all the trees are doing fine despite the July drought and early August heat, with NCC trees drying up like mummies all around them.
ECSONG's New Web Site
Most of those who filled out our member questionnaire agreed that ECSONG should have its own Internet name and site. We now do: http://ecsong.ca It is hosted by Your-Site.com, a virtual server in Massachusetts. (Regrettably, Canadian servers charge three times what most US servers do, for much poorer service.)
Ferrers Memorial Grove
Perhaps it is a measure of the regard people had for Dr. Ferrers Clark, a director at CISTI and formerly of IRC, that so many people gathered on Thursday May 10 to plant a grove of trees in his memory.
The energetic crowd pitched in, whether in shorts or suits, to wield sledgehammers, shovels, spades and buckets. Dozens signed on to a water brigade for daily duty throughout the summer. The ground was so tough we broke a pick. Experts assured us that the trees are tougher - growing roots can easily crack rocks.
As it happens, there was a noon-hour childrens' concert in the lobby of M-55. When it ended, the dozens of child musicians burst out of the building, and came scrambling up the berm and running down the side toward us, to watch how deep the holes were getting to be, to jump and scream when a pick ax struck rock, and generally to laugh and run around. By a cheerful coincidence, this Junior Strings 1 Orchestra feeds ultimately into the National Youth Orchestra, which Ferrers supported and which was the recipient of his memorial donation from CISTI. What a reminder of Ferrers' love of music and kids!
The trees chosen in Ferrers' memory are of strong and long-lasting varieties, and are expected to bear edible, delicious nuts and to thrive for many years to come. They were donated by the Eastern Ontario Nut Growers' Association (ESONG). Even twenty years ago nut trees were considered to be impossible to grow in Ottawa; ESONG has set out to prove otherwise, and the planting at CISTI will be a demonstration of their viability here. Kurt Wasner grew the trees at Buckthorn Meadows Tree Farms, in North Gower, and John Sankey was the contact at ESONG. John is a retired M-36 employee and is also an avid harpsichordist.
Starting at the south end of the semi-circular planting, there are two buarts (Juglans cinerea x Juglans ailantifolia), a cross of Japanese heartnuts with butternut, bringing to the native tree immunity to blight. In the middle is a Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima), which replaces the American species, once one of the largest and most common of trees but now largely exterminated by a disease. The grove is completed at the north end by two black walnuts (Juglans nigra), which though more common in the deciduous forest in southern Ontario, are perfectly hardy here. Agricultural Iroquois were known to cultivate walnuts beyond their natural range. The travels of native people can be traced by looking for groupings of these trees, and John Sankey has done exactly that. He found a major grove of black walnut on Calumet Island, the most northerly incidence of the trees, and a well-known native settlement.
There is something both zany and wise, that resonates with those who knew Ferrers, in seeking to plant trees of such permanent value in our disposable world. For the next two years, while quiet above ground, they will grow a deep taproot, stretching to the water table to support the huge future superstructure of fine-grained wood. Ultimately as tall as the tallest elms on campus and likely to live well into the next century, these trees believe the effort is worth the time and expense, like the mediaeval architect, who:
...fashioned for the sense, these lofty pillars, spread that branching roof self-poised, scoop'd into ten thousand cells where light and shade repose....
The grove may come to mean a great deal to people. It may be that people in times to come, not knowing Ferrers or reading these words, responding only to these noble trees and to the 'C' in which they are arranged, will commission a work of music - perhaps a children's choir - to be performed in the protective but open space by then created. Then the future will complete the poet's words:
...where light and shade repose, where music dwells lingering - and wandering on as loath to die; Like thoughts whose very sweetness yieldeth proof that they were born for immortality.
(Wordsworth, William: Ecclesistical Sonnets XLIII Inside of King's College Chapel, Cambridge)
On the afternoon of May 17, 2001 friends, family and staff members gathered for a dedication ceremony.
(reprinted from the CISTI newsletter Expression, with permission)
Oak Valley Report
This spring was busy at Oak Valley. There were three field days between April and June. The early start in April was in order to transplant seedlings before they started to leaf. With the aid of our usual volunteers and eight teens from the nearby High Schools, much was accomplished. The pine trees planted along the west side of the nursery were unsuccessful grafts of Korean nut pines. These were dug out and transplanted along the north side of the plantation filling in some gaps in the wind screen of white pines developed there. A future flower bed was developed in the space made available.
Rob Saunders had advertised through his school's environmental club to sell tree seedlings to interested parents. These were seedlings in the nursery that were clearly surplus to our future needs. The parents picked up these seedlings that day and a few dollars profit was made that was shared by Oak Valley and the environmental club. This money was directed towards maintenance of the plantation. The students and volunteers also worked on maintaining the trees, clearing the garden of weeds and general cleanup.
During this time frame a vigorous attack was directed towards eradicating the Manitoba maples that were beginning to dominate parts of the pine field. A work crew from South Nation Conservation Authority arrived and cut down most of the maples and Josée Brizard sprayed the stumps with Garlon 4. Later on George Truscott, Murray Inch and Rob Saunders continued the tree cutting in the areas not covered by the crew. As a result, huge piles of cut brush lay all over the place. Fortunately, Josée arranged for the SNC crew to return with a large wood chipper and the large concentrations of brush were chipped.
Two new structures were built and installed in the nut grove- a new sun/rain shelter and a bird viewing platform. The long-awaited sun shelter has been installed adjacent to the west side of the nursery. The new flower beds in this area will also add to the enjoyment of all visitors.
The second structure was funded and installed by the National Defence Headquarters Fish and Wildlife Club. They had already financed a fisheries and wildlife improvement project in the abandoned river course on the far side of the river. This viewing platform is situated in the south west corner of the nut grove behind some oak seedlings and will provide a shelter/blind for viewing any waterfowl there.
Some volunteers worked at the nut grove through the spring and summer to keep it well established. George made regular visits to keep the nursery free of weeds. Kim and Lester McInnes have done a terrific job of expanding the garden and Murray Inch has worked hard at cutting and scything the weeds and organizing the brush into piles. Meanwhile the Baldwin family are keeping the grass cut. So, good progress is being made at Oak Valley.
Dolman Ridge Fall Field Day
Saturday 6 October
The main job for the Dolman Ridge this fall is to prepare the ground for a new grove - of swamp white oak.
The seedlings will come from the Truscott nursery at Oak Valley next spring, while they are still dormant. (In other swaps, some of the black oak at the Dolman nursery will go to Oak Valley, and some of the Wisconsin butternuts to the FRP.)
All trees on the Dolman ridge from now on will be planted in a 'random' pattern - one that looks natural to onlookers. In fact, the layout is carefully calculated to divide the area up equally for tree spacings from 2 to 5 metres, so someone can determine growth rate vs. spacing in 50 years or so.
Now that we know that the voles there will wipe out a 12-year-old white oak, we need to protect every one younger than that for the coming winter. Hopefully, there will also be time to do some repair of the ECSONG Trail (shovel work).
Hopefully also the weather will cooperate better than it did for the spring tours, when it poured cold rain. A dozen hardy souls turned up for the morning tour, including George Truscott from White Lake, and John Adams and son from Kemptville. No one appeared for the afternoon one!
Butternut Rescue News
As you all know, the butternut is succumbing to a canker that is killing the species throughout its natural range. As nut tree growers, we are all concerned, and want to stop this destruction. ECSONG is a member of the Forest Gene Conservation Association, which has been working on this problem.
You may not know that ECSONG's Oak Valley Nut Grove is home to one of Ontario's three butternut archives. The trees in the archives are butternut scions grafted to black walnut rootstock. The scions were taken from butternuts found in the region that seemed to be either canker resistant or able to heal an canker infection, without human assistance. The plants in the Oak Valley Nut Grove did well in their first year. However, in the second year there was high mortality of the grafts. Now we see predominantly black walnut plants growing from the rootstock, though are are still a few grafts surviving.
Ernie Grimo of SONG, who had produced these grafts for the international butternut rescue program, thought that our colder weather may have doomed the experiment, as grafted trees may be more susceptible to cold. Ernie had also just seen our doomed butternuts at the Fillmore R. Park Nut Grove at Baxter, one of which had already been cut down, and was vigorously resprouting. He told us that he had heard recently about a kind of dormant bud found in the root collar that sprouts as an embryo, not a clone. We may tend to think that any sprout is genetically the same as the parent tree. However, Ernie was suggesting that such may not always be the case, and that sometimes the sprout is genetically different from the parent. This implies that if this kind of sprouting were common, sooner or later a sprout might occur that has the sought-after canker resistance.
The implication for our nut groves is that we should willingly cut down infected trees, but monitor the sprouts for resistance. In other words, maybe we should not kill the stump, but give it every possible chance to throw up embryonic sprouts. Roman Popadiouk explained to the group that there are at least two kinds of buds at the root collar, and that one of these kinds may be just as Ernie described. If you want to know more about this matter, check with Roman.
On a further note, in a recent conversation with OMNR's Cathy Nielsen, we found out that there is a butternut rescue working group getting underway. Cathy was interested in possible input from ECSONG, possibly as a participant on the group. If you personally want to join Cathy's effort, give Hank Jones a call 613-231-4224, and we will see if you might be permitted to represent ECSONG on this group.
And remember: on your travels keep an eye out for butternut trees that show signs of canker resistance!
Texas Bur Oaks
In the continuing experiment with growing the Texas Bur Oak in the Eastern Ontario region, ECSONG member Jane Lynas in Mansfield, Texas sent 48 more acorns to us last fall. The Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) produces acorns the size of golf balls in the southern edge of its range, which is Texas.
We have several of these trees now growing here from seed supplied by Jane over the last two or three years, some in the Dominion Arboretum nursery, and others at the Buckthorn Meadows Tree Farm near North Gower, Ontario.
The new acorns were stratified over winter and germinated in late spring 2001. Planted into buckets at the end of June, the seedlings were already a foot or more tall before the end of July.
Plans are to plant these into a special garden plot for the coming winter. The survivors will be transplanted to a proper nursery in spring 2002 while still dormant.
I'm planning to make a series of short videos to promote ECSONG and nut growing at schools and fairs. If you have ever dreamed of being a movie director, movie star, or just want to join in, call me at 748-0317.
Peter Satterly, John Sankey
In California, the Biologically Integrated Farming Systems (BIFS) program gives grants to assist walnut growers to reduce their use of agricultural chemicals. Nitrogen fertilizer application rates have been reduced on BIFS farms by an average of 53 pounds per acre, with no apparent effect on yield. This can help protect groundwater from nitrate pollution. The use of pheromone (sex attractant) mating disruption to control codling moth enabled 83 percent of the enrolled orchards to eliminate the use of organophosphate insecticides in 2000. Use of cover crops by enrolled growers increased from 60 percent in 1999 to 75 percent in 2000. Cover crops provide beneficial insect habitat, reduced runoff of agricultural chemicals and nutrients, and a biological source of nitrogen for the walnut trees.
And, work at the University of Michigan is showing that the species of mycorrhizal fungus found on a tree species can be different in different environments. The study was on balsam fir growing in shade and in sun, and is part of a study of the exchange of nutrients between plants and fungi.
English Oak Seedlings - Free
Last fall, George Truscott collected me a bag of English oak acorns for the Dolman Ridge. It was a good year for them - about 100 germinated and they are almost hitting the top of the growbox their first season.
However, the NCC has now decided that they want only species native to eastern North America planted within the Ramsar area, which includes the Dolman Ridge. So, I can't use them there. They are free to members who can give any of them a good home. Call me at 748- 0317 if you can. (They found one with John Adams.)
Dolman Nursery Report
Here are the initial results of the plantings last fall:
The black walnut seed came from our grove at Dolman. The resident of the house to the east of the grove reported similar failure with the prior year's crop. There is no crop this year.
I would appreciate contributions of scarlet, chinquapin or shingle oak acorns for the nursery.
SONG AGM at Baxter
ECSONG was honoured to host this year's SONG AGM, in Eastern Ontario at the Baxter Conservation Area. This is only the second time since 1978 we have had the opportunity for ECSONG members to meet SONG's executive and thus broaden all our nutting horizons.
Our thanks to the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and Peter Goddard for allowing us the use of the McManus Interpretive Centre for our meeting and lunch. The Centre is located in the Baxter Conservation Area, near Kars, Ontario, Canada.
John Flys was the ECSONG Coordinator for the event, held Saturday, July 14, 2001. He and Vera Hrebacka arranged for a bus tour to show the group ECSONG's four public demonstration nut groves, as well as for a marvellous lunch. John generously donated the special lunch treats, which were most gratefully consumed! Thanks to John and Vera from us all. Thanks to Garnet Simpson and B&G Bus Lines for transportation on the tour.
Chris (President SONG, who chaired the AGM) and Marilinda Cunliffe were making their first visit to ECSONG and its nut groves. Marion and Ernie Grimo were second time visitors, so they could see how the Fillmore R. Park Nut Grove has grown and expanded in the years since their first visit in the mid-nineteen eighties. The Grimos own and operate Grimo's Nut Nursery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada.
About twenty SONG and ECSONG folks, and visitors, took the free nut groves tour in the afternoon. On the tour around the Fillmore R. Park Nut Grove, everyone was impressed with its grandeur and attractive parkland appearance. Peter Goddard will be looking to include the nut grove in the nature programs he directs at the Baxter Area. However, the demise of the butternuts was noted, as well as the demise of the original hazels which Ernie Grimo says are diseased and should be replaced. How about planting the Winkler variety that is thriving at Oak Valley?
James Palmer took time from his busy real estate business to inspect the groves. Gilles Cyr and wife came from the Montreal area to see what has been done here and to discuss how much more development could be done to the groves. ECSONG's tree expert Roman Popadiouk explained many features of all the groves throughout the day, specially the Dominion Arboretum. Roman is the ECSONG Coordinator for the National Nut Tree Collection (NNTC), some of which is at the Arboretum. It was a pleasure to welcome new member George Vorauer who plans to join Roman and his committee to document our NNTC component at the DA.
Peter Carr and Murray Inch brought along their proposed Letter of Understanding Murray drafted to help cement long term nutting relations between ECSONG and the South Nation Conservation Authority, which owns the Oak Valley Nut Grove (OVNG). Hank Jones, Chair of ECSONG, was pleased to sign this document, with many thanks to Murray for the considerable effort he put into this work! Also noted was the new shelter on the site.
Peter will be retiring this fall from the job of OVNG Coordinator. Everyone agrees that Peter has done a superb job of organizing and guiding the ECSONG team (with special support from the McKendry family) that has made this grove our most comprehensive, with its Truscott Nursery, the Black Walnut White Pine agroforest, Eastern Ontario's only official Butternut Rescue Archive, the multi-species Nut Plantation, and the Pioneer Homestead Memorial. Ernie Kerr and George Truscott took considerable pride in presenting to the tour the Truscott Nursery at the OVNG. This nursery is the best facility ECSONG currently has for demonstrating how nut plants can be successfully germinated and transplanted.
Len Collett (Coordinator of the upcoming Lavant Shagbarks site) was able to come for the SONG AGM portion of the day, but was unhappy about not being able to make it for the afternoon nut grove tour. Art Read, ECSONG Treasurer, was pleased to have the chance to see the DRNG and OVNG for the first time - we understand he was very impressed! Alex Mucha , Rob Saunders, and John Adams enjoyed their first full tour of all the original groves.
John Sankey, Coordinator for the Dolman Ridge Nut Grove, took the group around the site. The American Chestnuts were spectacularly in bloom! The Mogens L. Anderson Oak Plantation, the Black Walnut Grove, and several areas of hickories, butternuts, beaked hazels, and other species highlight the site.
Almost half the kinds of nut trees we think can grow well in Canada are represented in the Dominion Arboretum, some specimens a hundred years old. Roman took everyone through the site to introduce them to these magnificent specimens. As our National Nut Tree Collection is documented in both public and private groves, we can foresee folks following the trail of the nut tree right across Canada!
Our nut groves are important to the public in many ways. For example, did you know that the Girl Guides hereabouts have instituted a new interest badge - the Nut Grower Badge!? They plan to take this achievement to the national level over the next two or three years, with the help of ECSONG. Our nut groves will be the most important places for the girls hereabouts to learn about nut growing and to earn their badges. We believe the Boy Scouts may want to have a Nut Grower Badge as well. (We need an ECSONG volunteer to liaise with the Guides and Scouts, to help them get underway with this new badge. Can you help?)
Thanks to everyone who participated in the SONG AGM and the Nut Groves Bus Tour!
Thanks from SONG
I would like to offer my personal thanks to you and your committee for the wonderful day you gave our small group. The meeting was well planned and extremely well executed. You even managed to order almost ideal weather for us.
I am impressed with the volunteer help you have to manage the various plantings. You have accomplished extraordinary tasks. You seem to have covered all of the bases in your efforts to show that nut trees can grow commercially in Eastern Ontario. It would not surprise me if one day you fulfil the $3 per black walnut goal.
I extend an invitation to you to plan one of your summer meetings in Southern Ontario. We would like to show you what can be done here.
The Nut Trees That Grow On Our Lawn
The Lorne Harrison family of Metcalfe, Ontario, has all been interested in planting and growing plants and trees, etc.
My husband, Lorne, would study and read about trees and over the years we had planted many, many trees. Some years ago he joined ECSONG. He was very interested in growing nuts and was pleased to receive some Japanese Walnut and Heartnut nutseed through ECSONG from Ernie Grimo of Grimo Nut Nursery at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. We have two of these original nut trees growing on our front lawn of the farm.
Lorne passed away on July 19th, 1999. The farm is still in the Harrison name and home to some of the family members.
The farm still has two trees that were among the first planted because of, and just after, ECSONG was formed in 1978. They were also the first to produce nuts and have been producing nuts for many years now. For this 'first crop' accomplishment, Lorne received the very first ECSONG Achievement Award ever given!
The trees were planted as Heartnut. However, the nuts they bear appear to be Japanese Walnuts - this needs to be investigated.
It is great to sit under them in the summer because they provide great shade. I don't use the nuts as they are too hard to shell.
We also have a younger tree that is growing on the lawn and seems to be doing well.
Provided by ECSONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.