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Valentines: Sometimes a Flower or an Herb Has a Special Meaning PDF Print Email

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By Staff


Feb. 13, 2019:  MyhometownBronxville photographer Neely Bower took these photos of flowers and herbs and their meanings at the William & Lynda Steere Herbarium of the New York Botanical Garden in 2018 before Valentine's Day that year. The Botanical Garden's website says that the herbarium has "approximately 7.8 million specimens, making it the second-largest herbarium in the world, according to Index Herbariorum."

We thought you, our readers, would enjoy learning about the meanings of these plants. Happy Valentine’s Day! 

Lilac: First emotions of love

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Cactus (flower): Lust

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Honeysuckle: Bonds of love

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Carolina Rose:  Love is dangerous

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Hydrangea: You are cold

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Yarrow:  Cure for the heartache

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Camellia (red): In love

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Daylily: Flirt

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Linden: Conjugal love

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Myrtle:  Love

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Motherwort: Concealed love

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Heliotrope:  Infatuation

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Photos by N. Bower

 
Squirrels Having Fun Over the Holidays PDF Print Email

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By Susan Miele


Jan. 30, 2019:  Check your chimneys and batten down the hatches: A new kind of intruder has been entering Bronxville homes, and it’s not a burglar. Squirrels are invading.

In early December, Jeannie Murrer set out to decorate her home for the holidays. After finishing the tree in her family room, she was heading toward the boxes of decorations that remained in the living room when she heard an unsettling noise. Peering around the threshold, she saw something move in the middle of the room. Whatever it was, it had a tail. It was too large to be a mouse, and mice typically cling to a room’s perimeter. “You could have heard me scream for miles,” Jeannie admitted. “People must have been thinking, ‘She is totally crazy in that house.’” In a panic, she closed the room’s doors, dashed out the kitchen entrance, raced around the house, and opened the front door in hopes of facilitating the intruder’s exit.

Jeannie called her husband, who was out in Quogue. He instructed her to call the police and insisted on hurrying home. She hesitated to bother the police, but a neighbor advised her to do the same. As Jeannie had anticipated, the police explained that they cannot respond to animal encounters unless the animal behaves aggressively. She was advised to contact animal services.

Two hours after Jeannie called her husband, he returned home, but there was no further sighting. With the front door having been left open all that time, the animal might have accepted the invitation to leave or perhaps scurried up the chimney. Later investigation revealed that the damper had been open, but despite a cap on the chimney, there must have been sufficient space for a critter to crawl in or out.

But this was not her first encounter with the fluffy-tailed rodent. Last spring, Jeannie, a sportswriter for MyhometownBronxville, and her writing partner, Sue, were sitting outside on low chairs, discussing a story they were collaborating on. Jeannie was looking down at some papers when two squirrels aggressively came charging at them. Sue’s instinct was to seek cover behind the screen of her open laptop; Jeannie, less shielded, was alarmed to find a squirrel running up her leg.

Another Bronxville homeowner had an indoor squirrel encounter this month. She noticed noises in her chimney one night and again the next day. She closed all the doors and vacated the home with her son, fearing exposure to an animal’s germs. She pursued numerous agencies for assistance, calling five or six chimney-service providers, before landing on a local animal trapper. The company representative inspected the area for compromises and identified a small gap between the cap and chimney that would allow a small animal to sneak in.

Squirrels and other wildlife also have been known to regard a cat or dog door as an invitation to enter a house. But homes aren’t the only site of squirrel havoc. Several years ago, a teacher in the Tuckahoe School District discovered that squirrels had built a nest in the tailpipe of her car while it was parked in the teacher’s lot. This resulted in considerable damage, a high price tag, and a newfound hatred for squirrels. A resident of Chester Heights discovered a squirrel behind her stove.

The Washington Post runs an annual photo contest, soliciting amateur photos of squirrels that are up to no good. The published results can be quite humorous—provided, of course, the victim is someone else.

Photo by N. Bower

Editor's note:  This is not the first time MyhometownBronxville has reported on squirrel activity in Bronxville. We published an April Fools' Day article on the subject in 2010. Here is a link.


 
MyhometownBronxville Photographer Neely Bower Captures Magnificent Photos of Snowy Owl on Holiday in Nantucket PDF Print Email

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By Neely Bower


Jan. 16, 2019:  After many years of spending the Christmas holidays in Nantucket, I finally spotted my first snowy owl. We came upon this one on an afternoon drive up the beach.  

I came home and did a little research on this species of owl and learned that they migrate south from the Arctic in search of food. Nantucket is perfect with its open marshes and similar terrain. Apparently, in Nantucket, there has been an insurgency in the past few years.

We were very fortunate; he/she put on quite a show.

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Trees of Bronxville Are Amazing PDF Print Email

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By Ellen Edwards, Member, Bronxville Green Committee


Jan. 9, 2019:  Did you know that the mighty oak is the official national tree? Lucky for us, Bronxville has many magnificent oak trees.

Like so much else about Bronxville, our mature tree canopy is a legacy left by thoughtful forefathers. That includes William Van Duzer Lawrence, who, in planning the development of Hilltop at the turn of the twentieth century, was drawn to the area’s hilly, wooded landscape and chose to preserve many of the existing native trees. The 1925 completion of the Bronx River Parkway, the first limited access, car-only highway bordered by a public park, ensured the preservation of acres of well-treed parkland. Such foresight, and the care of generations of homeowners and village stewards who followed, has left us the gift of mature northern red oaks, white oaks, towering tulip poplars, sycamores, maples, American beech, white ash, white pine, and sweet gums. 

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Mature trees add priceless value to Bronxville. One large canopy tree on the school or library grounds provides enough oxygen for four people. Trees purify the air by removing dangerous compounds, such as carbon monoxide, ozone, and sulfur dioxide; and particulate matter such as pollen, dust, and soot. Trees also help clean our drinking water by acting as huge sponges and redirecting rainwater back to the soil, where natural processes filter out pollutants and refill underground water supplies. One reason why Bronxville’s water is of such high quality is that it comes from an immense heavily forested, highly protected watershed one hundred miles north of us. By purifying the water we drink, those forests are making New York City—and Bronxville—one of very few municipalities that are not required to filter their water in an expensive facility.

It’s estimated that 100 mature trees can absorb 250,000 gallons of rainwater per year, making the landscape more resistant to flooding. Trees can calm winds, grow fruit and nuts for us to eat, and help fight climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide. According to arborday.org, during one year, a mature tree will absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide and release oxygen in exchange. (To put this in perspective, burning one gallon of non-ethanol gasoline in an internal combustion vehicle releases 20 pounds of carbon dioxide.)

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People often underestimate the power of trees to cool the air. Trees can lower daytime temperatures up to 10° F and nighttime temperatures up to 22° F by releasing water vapor through their leaves. The result: fewer incidents of heat exhaustion and less energy required for air conditioners. Years ago, a mature tree canopy and generous sleeping porches—vestiges of which are still visible in many Bronxville homes—were enough to make the summer heat bearable without air conditioning.

Studies have shown that spending time in a natural environment that includes trees promotes emotional wellbeing and lowers blood pressure, even helps fight disease. Trees muffle sound, provide habit for squirrels and possums (the first abundant, the second also seen in Bronxville) as well as many other animals, and beautify ugly sights such as concrete walls and acres of asphalt. The existence of mature trees increases home values by many thousands of dollars. 


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Trees are remarkable living beings whose complexities we’re only just beginning to understand. In The Hidden Life of Trees, German forester Peter Wohlleben reveals the startling ways in which trees communicate with each other through chemical warning systems and fungal networks that bind the root system of one tree to another—a phenomenon that some have called “the wood-wide web.” He describes a cooperation among trees that can seem unbelievable—how a “mother” tree can nurse its “babies” and how two trees of the same species that receive different amounts of sunlight, and thus produce differing amounts of energy through photosynthesis, can share nutrients through their root systems so that each has enough to survive the winter. 

Many of these processes have been discovered only in mature, undisturbed forests and never in the parklike setting that characterizes Bronxville. But the behavior of trees in an ideal setting can suggest what trees need to thrive.

Trees suffer increasing stresses from more frequent storms, further development of the built environment, invasive species, and disease. Perhaps if we better appreciate just how amazing trees are and all the ways they contribute to our own well-being, we’ll be inspired to continue Bronxville’s long tradition of caring well for its trees. 

Photos courtesy Ellen Edwards

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff. 



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Protecting Your Bronxville Property from Falling Trees and Keeping Trees Healthy PDF Print Email

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By Ellen Edwards, Member, Bronxville Green Committee


Nov. 28, 2018: As storms in recent months have reminded us, the mature tree canopy that so graces and defines Bronxville cannot be taken for granted. Strong winds and torrential downpours have undermined root systems and upended hundred-year-old trees, some with trunks five or six feet in diameter. Residents have expressed concern about how to protect their property from falling trees and keep their trees healthy and safe.

According to Deanna Curtis, curator of Woody Plants and landscape project manager at The New York Botanical Garden, recent storms are not historically stronger than storms of the past, but their ever-increasing frequency is not normal. That frequency combined with the heavily built environment—extensive pavement and construction that provide less surface area for rainwater to be absorbed into the ground—has significantly changed run-off patterns and increased flooding. Exposed ground becomes more saturated, making trees vulnerable. When they fall, they can take other trees down with them and damage root systems that are entwined with their own.

Trees are also prey to invasive plant species such as Asiatic bittersweet, porcelain-berry, winged euonymus, and black locust. According to Curtis, invasive species brought onto residential property by birds and other animals can out-compete established trees. As Bronxville trees reach what is typically “old age” for urban/suburban trees—the average lifespan of a street tree is only 25 years—they are more prone to disease; damage can also make them vulnerable to parasites and fungi. Curtis noted that the unusually wet summer just past may have encouraged a fungal disease in some trees that made them lose their leaves early. Another unexpected threat: new home construction and a preference for sunny gardens can lead homeowners to remove perfectly healthy trees. 

The Village of Bronxville has a sizeable budget and a vigorous program for pruning, removing, and replacing trees in public spaces and within the right-of-way of residential property. Mayor Mary Marvin has shared the village’s plan to replace eight to ten trees in the village center and surround them with porous Flexi-Pave material to help absorb rainwater and protect the root systems. Financed in part by a generous donation from the Boulder Ledge Garden Club, the project is replacing hornbeams and gingkos along Kraft Avenue, Meadow Avenue, and Park Place with native species such as swamp white oaks (on the corner of Park and Kraft), maples (on Meadow), locusts (on Cedar), Zelkovas (on Kraft across from People’s Bank), and an American elm (at intersection of Kraft and Pondfield). On the west side of town, some Bradford pear trees, ornamentals that have proven to be less hearty, will also be replaced.

Village administrator Jim Palmer encourages homeowners to get an assessment of their trees by a trained and experienced arborist. Once their trees are pruned, repaired, and, if necessary, removed, owners will enjoy greater peace of mind when the next storm strikes. Deanna Curtis said, “After a storm, homeowners should check for broken or hanging limbs, trunk cracks, or partially uprooted tree roots and have any immediate hazard pruned or removed by a trained professional.” Arborday.org warns against scam artists who pose as arborists after storms and recommends six rules to follow: don’t try to do it all yourself; take safety precautions; remove broken branches still attached to the tree; repair torn bark; resist the urge to over prune; and never top your trees.

When replacing trees, Curtis explains that native species are often, but not always, considered a better choice than non-native species; among professionals, it’s a complicated and controversial subject. She adds, “Some great regional native trees species include the following: large trees such as oaks (pin, red, white, swamp white, scarlet, and black, among others), maples (red or sugar—certain cultivars are better than others for this climate), and black tupelo; and smaller to midsize trees: redbud, flowering dogwood, and sweetbay magnolia.” Many slow-growing species such as white oak are better able to withstand strong storms than faster-growing species such as silver maples. But plenty of tree species grow at a moderate rate, reach a good size in a reasonable amount of time, and, if pruned to ensure what Curtis calls “the right branch architecture,” can also withstand intense wind. 

Tree roots are more shallow and cover a greater distance than most people realize, said Curtis—much farther than the tree’s drip line. Most roots live within the top two feet of soil, and they need well-aerated (not compacted) soil to promote growth and the flow of nutrients—something homeowners might consider more seriously when altering the buildings, pavement, and landscaping on their property. Even a paved versus not-paved driveway can affect tree roots. Trees thrive in good soil, and an easy first step to restoring the health of soil that’s been depleted by the regular use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is the application of mulch and compost within a tree’s root zone. A generously sized ring of mulch around a tree’s trunk can also stop lawn mowers from hitting, and harming, the base of the trunk. And staking a tree that has been newly transplanted from a nursery can help it withstand bad weather when its root system is still vulnerable.

How can Bronxville best preserve its existing tree canopy? According to Curtis, planting new trees of different species over many years is the best way to help ensure that the village won’t lose its trees all at once because of old age, pests, or storms.

Bronxville has been designated a “Tree City USA” by the Arbor Day Foundation for more than a decade. Maintaining that coveted distinction in the future may require more planning and care. A hundred-year-old tree can be lost in a moment, but to replace it takes…well, a hundred years. 

Photo by Ellen Edwards

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

 

 

 
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