Two years ago as part of the creation of the Canada 150 Trail in the Morgan Arboretum a subset of volunteers from the friends of the Morgan Arboretum created “The Copse”. As I have said in earlier posts, this is a small collection of trees and shrubs, all native species, selected for their ability to produce spring blossom followed by a succession of fruits to nourish wildlife , especially birds, right through into the winter. The site is on the edge of an open field in the forest and exposed to good sun for a reliable portion of the day. The soil is a rich loam overlying deep sand – several thousand years ago after the ice age glaciers disappeared this was a sandy beach on the side of a lake.

When we planted the trees and shrubs we had our fingers crossed that at least some of them would settle down and grow well – we were a bit worried because in high summer this is a dry area and watering is hard to arrange needing, as it does, a tractor, trailer and big water reservoir.

The survival issue was solved last year as all the plants made it though their first season. Now, two years after starting the project it is quite remarkable how things have worked out. With the sole exception of one plant (a pagoda dogwood) that is not burgeoning as it should everything we pout in there is growing like there’s no tomorrow and we have blossoms and fruits a-plenty. In fact we are now seeing what we hoped to see two or three more years into the future.

The plant gods have been smiling on us.

2017 – After the planting was completed

As you can see – nothing above head height, most of it around our waists

2018 – Signs that things are growing

It was evident that we had not lost anything, but growth was not strong – of course, below ground, they were probably concentrating on establishing good roots.

2019 – We have lift-off

Look at the American Black Cherry for example – shoulder high when planted, head high last June and simply huge this year … new shoots thrusting up everywhere. In time that will be an enormous forest tree towering over the other plantings and groaning under the weight of fruit. All the Amelanchier canadensis trees (serviceberry) are covered in ripening fruit, the Cornus (dogwoods) are putting out new wood so fast you can almost watch it growing and the Ilex verticillata (winterberry) shrubs are all filling out and looking great. We are just so impressed – worth all the sweat that’s gone into the past couple of years.

Hover over photos to read the captions, click on any one too enlarge to full size