The Princeton Library has a new initiative for families and children to explore the great outdoors. Families can now check out a backpack loaded with information about parks and open spaces around Princeton. The backpack also includes a compass, binoculars, magnifying glass, New Jersey pocket field guides, nature log and more. The Marquand Park Foundation has included a guide with the location of some of its signature trees and a bookmark featuring the Little Free Library. The backpacks are available for check out at the Youth Services information desk.
seasons in the park
When Pamela Machold joined the Marquand Park Foundation in the early 1970ties, she decided to use her artistic talents and create pen drawings of two of her favorite trees in the park. Her picture of the threadleaf Japanese maple became later the logo of the Marquand Park Foundation and Pam’s rendition of the cedar of Lebanon shows, better than any photograph, the majestic silhouette of this famous old tree. It is used as a wallpaper background on the Marquand Park website.
The Marquand Park Board in those days was working on a new tree map of the park and had decided for the first time in its existence to add a small guide with short descriptions of the plant species. Roland Machold and Ramsay Raymond were responsible for writing up the descriptions for this Guide to Marquand Park, which was dedicated to Mary Marquand Hochschild who had supported the park for many years and was still living at Marquand House bordering the north-east side of the park.
Aware of Pam’ s unique drawing skills, the Board determined they had a true artist in their midst, and she would be just the right person to compliment the botanical descriptions in the guide with illustrations highlighting the characteristics of the trees and shrubs. Pam remembers that she and Sam deTuro would go to the park carrying with them three color-coded mylar sheets with the locations of either the deciduous trees, evergreens, or shrubs, and pinpoint a tree that they wanted to illustrate. She would then sit down on the grass with her sketch book and start drawing, first using a pencil and later retracing the pencil lines with an Indian ink pen. Sam usually disappeared when Pam got busy, so she was mostly by herself while working on her sketches.
Pam started the project in the springtime and then worked through the seasons to complete the drawings. She does not remember making much use of reference books and mostly relied on what she observed in the park. Not always having enough time during the day because of her busy family life, she took branches and other plant material home and worked on her sketches in the evening when she had no other demands on her time.
The result is remarkable. With our mobile phones or cameras, we all make photographs of plants with the intent of using these pictures later as reference materials. But we often discover that some critical detail that would identify the plant is blurred, too much in the shadow, or entirely absent in our pictures. A botanical illustration is a powerful and often much better tool to present a clear image of a plant species. The illustrator can highlight and slightly exaggerate key features and show a plant’s characteristics in different seasons, something a photograph is never able to accomplish. These qualities are critical and very much present in Pam’s drawings.
Without any formal training in the art of botanical illustrations, Pam was able to visualize the essential physiognomies of different plants. In three of drawings, the Japanese, Norway, and sugar maple are represented with a single leaf depicted frontally with their unique features easily distinguishable. Each leaf is accompanied by one of more samaras which clearly show differences in shape between the three species. The leaf of the sassafras tree was intriguing to Pam because of its lack of uniformity. Her illustration shows three leaves. On is ovate and lobe-less, another looks like a mitten, and the final leaf has three lobes. Alas, the tree has disappeared from the park depriving us of an opportunity to look for four and five-lobed leaves that sometimes appear on this tree. The cones of the white pine are beautifully captured in two stages of development together with their plumes of needles. All illustrations are relatively small and appear in the margins of the text.
Altogether 43 drawings were included in the guide and the picture of the cedar of Lebanon was reproduced by itself on the final page of the booklet. Pam mentioned that Joan and John Emerick, owners of Minute Press in Princeton were very helpful in finalizing the layout of the illustrations. Pam’s drawings were used again in three completely revised Marquand Park guides with a different format. These guides were published in 1989, 2003, and 2004. Pen drawings by Dorothy Geyer done in a similar style were added.
Why Dead Trees Matter
Contribution by Lilly Krauss:
When you venture in the wooded area of Marquand park, you may notice fallen trees and large branches on the ground. In this area of the park called natural woods, trees grow, mature, reproduce, die, and decompose without human intervention. Because dead trees are left undisturbed, natural woods have a healthier and more diverse ecosystem than wooded areas where fallen trees are routinely cleared.
When a fallen tree begins to rot on the ground, fungi and other microorganisms that live on dead wood break down the tree’s cell wall, thereby releasing carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other essential nutrients to the soil. This decomposition produces rich organic matter for other trees to use.
Even standing dead trees, called snags, play an important role in the forest by supplying food and microhabitats. You may find snags stripped of their bark because in particular, deer and other small animals like to eat the bark. Woodpeckers bore deep holes in snags to get at insects or larvae within. These holes become nesting sites for woodland birds. Rotting tree bases provide homes for small mammals. Finally, birds of prey use standing dead trees as lookouts.
To read more about the importance of natural woods:
- Dead Wood by Dan Puplett.
- Science News for Students, recycling the dead, by Kathiann Kowalski
- The Biological Carbon Cycle, by Professor Patricia Shapley, University of Illinois, 2010
- Science findings, PNW Pacific Northwest Research Station, Vol. 20, November 1999
- Whether fallen or standing, trees have many uses, by Karen Maserjian Shan, February 28, 2015
John Claudius Loudon (1783 – 1843), often called the father of the English garden, wrote books and articles on gardening and growing plants which were widely read and used in the creation of private and public gardens in the 19th century. Loudon did not believe that gardens should imitate nature. His gardenesque style allowed for the placement of specially designed planting areas where plants could grow under optimal conditions. These planting areas were geometrically shaped like squares, triangles, and circles.
In his Suburban Gardener and Villa Companion, published in 1838, Loudon describes the construction of a circular flower bed on a grassy lawn. The outside of this flowerbed was made of a circle of bricks with the short sides of the bricks facing each other (a). The raised slope inside the circle (c) was covered by another row of bricks (b) laid perpendicular to the bricks forming the outside circle. A year after the publication of Loudon’s book, the description of this circular bed with accompanying illustrations was republished in The Magazine of Horticulture, Botany, and All Useful Discoveries and Improvements in Rural Affairs (Volume 5, 1839, p.133) in America. The circular bed was praised as an inexpensive method of creating desirable planting areas for growing a mixture of verbenas, and other plants with maybe a tall fuchsia as a center piece in the middle. In the next edition of this magazine, Mr. R.S. Field of Princeton is praised for having introduced this circular flower bed with “the result being quite pleasing and worth imitation.” The article recognizes Field as an innovator willing to experiment with building these new planting areas.
In 1840 when the article was written, Richard Stockton Field was still living on Stockton street across from the Morven estate and had not yet bought the property that later became Marquand Park. Thus, it is uncertain if he ever constructed similar flowerbeds on his newly purchased estate. But Field’s association with Loudon’s work is interesting. He most likely owned a copy of the Suburban Gardener and Villa Companion or was familiar with Loudon’s gardening methods from local publications. When, the time came for designing and constructing his newly purchased estate, then called Fieldwood, Field did not follow Loudon’s gardenesque style but preferred the more natural and pitturesque garden designs popularized by Andrew Jackson Downing. But even in this more natural landscape design, the construction of some circular flowerbeds could be easily imagined.
In 1842, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society held its annual exhibit in a building that was originally the Chinese museum of Philadelphia. Covering the show, the Farmers’ Cabinet** reported an Urania Speciosa, a banana-like plant donated by Richard S. Field of Princeton as one of the star attractions. The plant must have been quite tall because the report notes that there was fortunately enough space for its towering stalks in the large exhibition room with high ceilings. A year earlier, a description of important green houses in Princeton*** lists an Urania Speciosa among a collection of plants in the hot-house of Richard S. Field. Thus, we can safely assume that this Urania Speciosa was the same plant as the one entered into the show in Philadelphia a year later. Richard Field who is also the first owner and creator of what is now Marquand Park, may have carefully cultivated this exotic and rare species to be exhibited in the show.
The Urania Speciosa or Ravenala madagascariensis (also known as the Traveler’s tree) is a tropical plant with large paddle-shaped leaves arranged like a giant fan. Although already mentioned in the 17th century by explorers traveling to Madagascar, it was carefully described and illustrated for the first time by Pierre Sonnerat in his Voyages aux Indes orientales et à la Chine of 1782. Arboreta like Kew Garden in London and Les Jardin des Plantes in Paris had an Urania Speciosa in their collection in the 19th century. They were considered rare and exotic specimens. Richard Field was an active collector of plants and trees and well known for his horticultural interests. Privately owning and exhibiting such a plant must have been especially thrilling for him.
**The Farmers’ Cabinet, and American Herd-book: Devoted to …, Volume 7; edited by Francis S. Wiggins, James Pedder, Josiah Tatum, 1842, p. 103
***The Magazine of Horticulture, Botany, and All Useful Discoveries …, Volume 7; edited by M. Hovey, Boston 1841, p. 123.
On November 28, 2017, Pamela Machold gave an important lecture on the life on Eleanor Marquand (1873-1950) for the Garden club of Princeton. Eleanor Marquand was the wife of Allan Marquand, the third owner of Guernsey Hall and the adjacent land that is now Marquand Park. Her activities and contributions to this community were numerous. She served among others on the Princeton Board of Education, was a member of the board of the State Hospital in Trenton, and became an active member of the Village Improvement Association.
We know little about Eleanor Marquand’s formal education but she was recognized during her life time as an accomplished horticultural specialist and plant historian Her careful investigation of the flora of the Unicorn tapestries in the Cloisters, in NY, resulted in the identification of 46 plant species and their symbolic meaning in the Middle Ages. During her lifetime, she lectured on plant illustrations and published several articles in horticultural journals. In addition, her memberships in organizations such as New York Botanical Society, the Garden Club of America, the Horticultural Society of New York and the Garden Club of Princeton, of which she was a charter member, confirm her life long passion for plants and formal gardens.
Eleanor Marquand lived at Guernsey Hall most of her life and must have played an important role in decisions concerning the acquisition of trees and shrubs on the property. In 1917 she did a careful inventory of plants and trees on the estate; her index cards and a map with the location of the plants and trees are preserved in the Princeton University library. They clearly show that she was intimately familiar with the flora around Guernsey Hall. We hope that comparing this map with another inventory of the early 1950s, completed shortly after Eleanor’s death and around the time the property was bequeathed by the Marquand family to the town of Princeton, will provide an opportunity to study how the park changed in the first half of the 20th century.