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Fall Hike: Core Natural Areas Edition

November 1, 2022


Welcome to the newest of the Holden Arboretum’s garden areas!  The Core Natural Areas are relatively unmanaged forest fragments within the maintained garden area, and we currently are focusing on 5 of them for restoration.  They range in size from 0.5 acre to 2 acres and are currently being aggressively managed for invasive species.  Once these woody invasives are largely eradicated, Eastern North American native food plants will be planted.  These sites will function as food forests, which could become the basis for a sustainable food system.

A new, rough-and-ready trail was created around Site 2, which is located between the ticket booth, the Butterfly Garden, and the Crabapple Collection.  We’ll start right off the pathway that runs along the far Eastern edge of the Butterfly Garden.  It’s marked by Bald Cypresses and Dawn Redwoods.  Just beyond them, you’re in another world.

Cut branches comprise a debris pile and are also used to line the path.

Volunteer Bob Agrast had the idea to use shipping pallets as bridges.  If the trail becomes ADA accessible, a more permanent solution will be found.

Two pallets reinforced with ash sapling poles ford an otherwise unattractive drain pipe.

At un-mowed Old Sperry Road—which separates Site 2 from Site 1—looping back into Site 2.

Arches of Crabapple, Viburnum, and the occasional Buckthorn create a tunnel effect.

Beautiful lichen-encrusted boulders offer seating and contemplation potential.

Pink flagging tape separates the sites into 3 sections, with each section representing a different broadcast spray treatment.  Woody invasives cut from the previous winter are now 2-4 feet tall, and broadcast sprays occur when invasive leaves remain after native leaves have already dropped.  Crabapple collection is in the background.

A final pallet takes you back to the Eastern end of the Butterfly Garden and the Visitor’s Center.

Rob Maganja

Rob Maganja


Rob Maganja graduated from Hiram College in 2013 with a BA in Environmental Studies. He started as a seasonal at the Holden Arboretum in 2013, and in the 8 years since, has worked several more seasons in all the different gardens. Additionally, he’s spent time with the United States Peace Corps in Cameroon and was an IPM intern at Longwood Gardens. He currently is the horticulturist of the Rhododendron Discovery Garden and is also one of the stewards of Holden’s Core Natural Areas. He looks forward to the Core Natural Areas becoming a bona fide agroforestry demonstration.

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