This site will point you to places you've never been to before.
You'll also be introduced to films (ratings from 1- 5), festivals, music, getaways travel, restaurants and much more. Commentaries and amusing anecdotes may pop up.
I really welcome your comments at the bottom of each article.
So join me on the ride into the rugged and the luxurious.
We all need to discover open borders in the world and in ourselves.
Saturday, April 28, 2018
MORGAN ARBORETUM: A MYRIAD OF TREES TO TREAD AMONG
Majestic Growth in a Mature Forest
Magically Enchants the Visitor
Arboretum (40 minutes from downtown Montreal)
owned by McGillUniversity since 1945, took over a
mighty spread of land that once belonged to the wealthy Morgan family in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.
A staggering 600 acres of formidable forest encompass this tranquil haven brimming
with many natural gifts – most notably – 40 different native Montreal species, and many more from other parts of Canada, including exotics from around the world.
set off April 27th, knowing the ground might be wet from the rain; it had been a rainy week. Still, I wanted to learn what I could about this tremendous tree-towering site. Along
with the public, it’s often frequented by students involved with various
research projects from the MacdonaldCampus.
There are eight
easy well-maintained walking trails, ranging from basically 1 to 5.8
Three of them allow dogs off
leash, but only after each dog has been evaluated by the Arboretums’ expert in
dog behaviour and sociability to ensure safety for all.
I meandered along a 2-kilometre-patch loop of
sorts which brought me to forests, plantations and collections – the latter
including the stunning Canada Birch Trail (more about that later).
the Forest Section offered dominant species that most of us come across in
urban and country landscapes.
Corner – part of the Collections – featured magnolias, linden, willow and
virburnum. Also growing within the Collections was the Dale Field where
eye-catching exotics captured my attention, such as the Sassafras, Honey-locust, Sicamore and Muscle-wood. Still the Douglas fir and larch plantations were
not slouches – despite the fancy names of the others. Suffice it to say the
Arboretum is a lush, gorgeous landmark of greenery and every colour in between, but there are more muted hues at this time of year. Home to hundreds of locally grown deciduous, coniferous and flowering
trees, the Arboretum is a lovely place to linger.
A willow tree in the Blossom Corner
There's a vast variety of shrubs, most from Quebec, and Southernn Ontario, but also from Asia. Woodland blooms were shyly peeking
out of the ground as they greeted spring; others, like the extraordinary fire bush were audaciously visible.
A birch stands over the quarry
I was being guided around by Anne Godbout, a keenly knowledgeable botanist, who has been a
liaison officer for twenty-two years with the Arboretum. She led me to these
above-mentioned distinct areas, starting with a forest mix of oak, hemlock, maple, pine, fir, spruce, ash, hickory and hemlock – to mention
only a few species. Anne explained that 15% of the tree growth encompasses plantations and 5% is collections, such as the Blossom Centre where
flowering trees and shrubs thrive so well; this special spot has its own micro-climate.
that there are twenty different soil types accounts for such proliferation of
Anne pointed out two different
types of magnolia trees one from China, and the other is native to Southern Ontario. “We even have a
single tulip tree here, Anne revealed. “We also have buckthorns and native butternut
trees along with all kind of fruit trees, like the Canada plum and crab apple – of
particular attraction to the birds”. There are more than 180 bird species here
and; the trees make for great feeding and nesting. Even at this early spring
time, there's nature everywhere. My senses were awakened in a variety of ways.
I even saw a garter snake!
A feast for
the ears and eyes with scents such as the pepper we smelled in one small spot transported me to another world.
Japanese lilac in the Blossom Corner, waiting to sprout its cluster of flowers,
exuded imminent exotica
A Paper Birch-Obsessed Professor Leaves a
ago, after Dean W.H. Brittain's retirement (1934-1955) from Macdonald College; this celebrated founder of the Arboretum dedicated his life to studying paper
birch trees. For him, this tree was a true national emblem. He traveled all
with his collaborator, Professor A.R.C. Jones by plane barge, diesel tug and
small riverboats and car, collecting birch tree seedlings.
They eventually were
This work led to the dedication of the Arboretum’s
Centennial Birch trail in 1967. Last as part of Canada’s 150th
celebrations, special projects offering food and shelter to wildlife contributed to
the revitalization of the trail, fittingly renamed, the Canada
150 Trail. A newly created copse and unique branchery are just some of the
conservation projects that spotlight Canada’s natural historical legacy while
ensuring longevity of this wondrously white-trucked trail for every generation to cherish.
A Salamander in the Hand Assures Safety
and cackling sounds I heard came from the peepers and wood frog species that
live in the quarry. The shrill peeping sound that rung through the trees
weren’t birds but spiny peeper frogs that live in the big pond. There are lots
of wetlands at the Arboretum. I got a few soakers myself. Dry or on water, the
mix harmonizes in this magical dynamic ecosystem, and sometimes humans can help
Mother Nature along, especially if there’s a road blocking the natural course
of things. Here’s one example: Within the past few years, Anne described a
unique project that truly unites amphibians to human hands.” Every night for
these past two weeks and on, we carry salamander and frog and newts by hands
from the forest across the road to protect them as they make their way to the
big pond down the hill to lay their eggs which happens at the end of April.”
pleasant manner, patience and explanations brought me closer to contemplating
the Arboretum – a gentle giant of growth.
And as I pondered the power of this tree kingdom, I realized the
discoveries are endless, if not magical here. One particular comment made by
Anne poignantly proved this:
“Trees are connected underground in a network
with fungi. The mature trees nurture their young and some conifers exchange sugars
with deciduous trees seasonally.”
mutually symbiotic process that ensures growth even between different species.
(Read more about it on the website).
Indeed the Arboretum has miracles both seen and
unseen; it’s a mysterious realm that beckons us back again and again to
www.morganarboretum.org. It’s richly-informative. It includes
easy-to-understand newsletters which make learning about the rich diversity of
the Arboretum, guardianship and all projects most enjoyable.
example: if you want to know more about how trees communicate and support one
another underground via a fungal mycelia, go to the website, then click on publications, and scroll to leaflets; choose
the issue, fall 2016. The article about this natural neuro-type transmission is
titled: Seeing theforest through the trees.
The Arboretums' literature is excellent. Get the trail map, and make sure to grab the yellow Discovery Map. It's excellent!
variety of activities for the public, including
all kinds of interesting tours and learning experiences happen throughout the
year – as many as four per month.
I want to
attend “The Survive in the Wild Outing: Useful
May 13th from10 am to12 pm..
Call the Arboretum a: (514) 398-7811.
The address is: 150 Pine
Street, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, H9X 3V9.
Thank you Anne for making everything so enjoyable!