Holden Arboretum Still Addressing Damages From Early December Storm

A Holden Arborist cuts down the Apple Serviceberry tree, which was damaged in a December storm.
A Holden arborist cuts down the Apple Serviceberry tree, which was damaged in a December storm. [Holden Forests & Gardens]

Holden Arboretum is still working to repair damages from heavy snowfall and winds in early December, as more severe weather moved through Ohio over Christmas.

The Dec. 1 storm damaged roughly 350 trees around the arboretum, said Vice President of Horticulture and Collections Caroline Tait, along with 26 more at the botanical gardens in University Circle.

“It’s not something, unfortunately, done and dusted in a day,” Tait said. “Even though the storm was only one day, the impact lasts a bit longer.”

The damages cover just a small portion of the roughly 20,000 plants between the two properties, Tait said, but some of the trees affected were large. Debris has been cleared from the central area, she said, but work needs to be done to repair the canopy. Some pathways remain blocked off to the public.

“We’ve got trees that have fallen across the path and down the length of the path, and some have even fallen into the ponds,” Tait said.

The remainder of the damage includes some larger trees and areas that are difficult to access, Tait said, and repairs will take time. The arboretum is asking donors to help cover the costs of restoration efforts.

It’s difficult to protect trees on the campus from the impact of storms, Tait said. Instead, the arboretum makes an effort to have multiple specimen as backups.

“That really is the kind of ethos of botanic gardens, arboretums and green museums, is to have this level of redundancy so you don’t, ideally, get caught out with losing your one specimen,” Tait said.

If a specimen is lost, Tait said, the arboretum can contact sister organizations for seeds or other options to replace it.

Holden Arboretum employees feed branches into a wood chipper.

Holden Arborists using a tree chipper to remove pieces of the Apple Serviceberry from the Display Garden. The tree was planted in 1964. [Holden Forests & Gardens]

Holden Arboretum has received donor support throughout the pandemic, Tait said. Efforts to socially distance and reduce the spread of the coronavirus have brought increased appreciation of the outdoors, she added.

“If there’s one bit of hope to come from this year, it’s how much people have realized that outdoors and that nature is an integral part of our lives,” Tait said.

The arboretum remains open to the public during the repairs.

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