Children’s Arboretum is Coming
Groundbreaking work on a Children’s Arboretum next to the parking lot has started! The Children’s Arboretum is intended to be a place where children between the ages of 5 and 15 can learn through hands-on experiences how trees grow. Activities will include: the planting of saplings or small trees in raised planting beds in the spring; the caring for these trees during the summer; and transplanting the trees to other sites in the park or elsewhere in the fall. The arboretum will be open during regular park hours. Parents will be asked to supervise their children while visiting the arboretum.
The arboretum will have a 6′ feet fence consisting of pressure-treated wooden posts with galvanized coated wiring supported by horizontal wood framing. The fence is intended to provide some protection from the deer. A decorative gate will be installed on the north side of the arboretum. The whole area inside the arboretum will be covered with a weed barrier ground cover and then covered with mulch. Raised planting beds would be framed with cedar edging. Walking path will consist of stepping stones of recycled rubber. Most of the work will be completed by April 2019 and in time for an Arbor Day opening.
In April of 1955, shortly after Marquand Park opened its doors to the public, the Princeton Borough recognized the educational value of the park’s tree collection and purchased 70 tree tags that were placed on the trees by local boys scouts. James Clark, the horticulturist of Princeton University had been asked to identify the trees and to prepare a map. Ahead of time, the scouts had been given a list of rare trees to familiarize themselves with the location and to assist in directing the public. The tree tag project was probably undertaken at the recommendation of the Landscape Firm Clarke and Rapuano. They had been commissioned in 1954 to design a development plan for the park and specifically mentioned identifying and marking the trees (Princeton Herald, vol. 32, 30, 19 February 1955 and vol 32, 42, 2 April).
The next mention of a tree map was in 1959 when the Garden club of Princeton commissioned Elizabeth Johnson Marshall, a local landscape architect, to design a map to be reproduced on a large metal plate placed at the entrance of the park near the parking lot. The public could buy a paper copy of the map and use it to locate and identify trees while walking in the park. A copy of this paper version still exists in the Princeton Public Library. It shows the names of trees written in at their location and, on the right side of the map, is also a key list of trees with grid locations (Princeton Herald, 37, 15, 18 November 18, 1959).
In 1968, Mary Marquand Hochschild, the daughter of Allan Marquand, published an article on trees and shrubs growing in the park entitled: A Calendar of Colors. In her article, she mentioned the creation of a new tree map by Dorothy Compton, a retired natural science teacher. We learn from her article that the map took many years to complete and could be purchased for a quarter at the Bainbridge House or the Junior Chamber of Commerce on Nassau street. Buying it was well worth the expense according to Mrs. Hochschild (Town Topic, Outdoor Living -Spring 1968, p. 2). This map, which we recently discovered in the Machold collection and is dated 1966, has a fold-out page with a list of tree names with numbers and grid locations corresponding to the numbers on the map.
A revised edition of the Dorothy Compton map became part of a Marquand Park Foundation publication called A Guide to Marquand Park. The guide was published in 1972 and dedicated to Mary Marquand Hochschild. The trees on the large fold-out map are represented by circles and color coded into three groups, 1) conifers and hollies; 2) deciduous trees; and 3) shrubs and masses of shrubs. The guide has descriptions of the tree species accompanied by illustrations of salient plant characteristics by Pamela Machold. The number of each description corresponds to the numbers on the map and also includes grid locations to facilitate finding the trees. The numbering system, however differs from the one used in the 1966 map. An attempt was made by Miss Compton in both the 1966 and 1972 map to include most of the trees and shrubs in the park which gives the map a rather crowded appearance.
In 1989, A Guide to Marquand Park was entirely revised by the Foundation. It includes a smaller fold-out map with fewer trees, and each tree species is represented on the map only once with a numbered circle. The map has arrows inviting visitors to follow a certain route through the park, locate a tree along the trail and on the map, and then look up the description of the tree by matching the number of the tree on the map with the number of the description in the guide. The descriptions include the same illustrations of the 1972 guide with added illustrations by Dorothy Geyer. The help visitors find trees, numbered tags with common and scientific names of the trees were placed on stakes close to the trees. In 2003, A Guide to Marquand Park was revised with a new numbering system and some more details of planting beds along Lovers Lane were added on the left side of the map. This guide with the same map was reprinted in 2004.
The amount of tree maps of Marquand Park published over a period of about 50 years is truly remarkable and shows how important the park and its rich collection of trees was to the town and its visitors. They also show the struggle to create tree maps that could easily orient visitors to a tree they were interested in, make sure they looked at the right tree, and then provide them with meaningful information and visuals about its characteristics.
A next step in our map explorations will include careful comparisons of these maps so we may better understand how the park developed as a public park over time; specifically, it will be important to get a better idea of new trees that were planted, which trees survived, and which ones did not. For this project two important geocoded tree inventories completed by the Marquand Park Foundation in 2014 and 2018 will be available as well.
To explore the history of the trees on the property even further, a hand-drawn map by Eleanor Marquand of 1917, preserved in the Princeton University Library (currently not available for study purposes because of its condition), and 19th century published accounts of the estate will provide additional details about tree species planted before the gardens of the estate became a public park.