Thursday, June 2, 2016

Dr. James Lendemer, a lichenologist from the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx, gave a slide talk on the fascinating and little known world of lichens.  James-LendemerbyAndrei-MoroMost people have seen lichens, but few people know much about these small plantlike beings that have no roots, stems or leaves– despite the fact that over 5,000 species of lichen and related fungi have been documented in North America.  Lichens are a fusion of two unrelated organisms, usually a fungus with a green algae or cyanobacteria, or sometimes both.  Some lichens are believed to be among the oldest living organisms on the planet.

Photo of James Lendemer by Andrei Moroz

Most lichens grow slowly, often only in a narrow range of habitat conditions. This makes them especially susceptible to habitat disruption. Because many species are sensitive to air pollution,  lichens are used throughout the world to assess and monitor air quality. They are an important part of the food chain, are used as nesting materials, dyes, and medicines, and serve as an important food source for reindeer and caribou.

For those who would like to further pursue the subject, below are links to lichen sites, graciously provided by one of our members.

Chrysler Herbarium and Mycological Collection of Rutgers

USDA: Lichens–Did You Know?

Uses of Lichens

Lichens of North America


Saturday, April 30, 2016

FPNL-Arbor-Day-003We honored the memory of our friend Dave Reed of Mapleton Nurseries with the planting of a pink dogwood. Dave was a wonderful friend to FPNL: an advisor on tree-related issues, a supplier and planter of trees for the Flemer Arboretum, and a host for some of our events. He was ever generous with his time and experience. His wife and three sons were in attendance.

FPNL-Arbor-Day-007Cropped  P4301018





Bob Wells of Wells Tree & Landscape prefaced his guided walk with a fascinating excursion into the geology of New Jersey and how the ancient past determined the topography and soil composition of the land on which we stood.








The walk began in the heart of the Mapleton Preserve and looped through the canal side of Mapleton Road and the former Mapleton Nurseries. Above, he shows how “knocking on wood” can reveal the extent of interior decay or hollowness in a tree.

P4301036Bill-Flemer Bill Flemer (right), grandson of the founder of Princeton Nurseries, was able to provide some inside history on the family business, complementing the information shared by Bob Wells (left).

Photos courtesy of Pamela Machold, Robert von Zumbusch, and Tari Pantaleo






Bob pointed out some special trees–sciadopsis and willow oaks, hazelnut, photina, bitternut hickory, osage orange (or “ghost tree”), ginkgo, white oaks and red oaks (the latter dying, unfortunately, from bacterial leaf scorch), among others. He offered basic ID techniques, and explored the importance of trees to the environment and to our well being, also discussing threats posed by changes in climate to trees and their co-dependent insects.



Following the walk, two of the participants went in search of the local eagles, and obtained this great shot of one of the parents standing guard over the nest!

Eagle photo courtesy of Richard Polk


Saturday, March 19, 2016

On Martin Luther King Day, we made excellent progress in cutting down a swath of bamboo to make way for new wires that will bring electricity to power a security system for the Propagation House.  Now we’ve finished the job!  A dozen energetic volunteers cut, dragged, and stacked a mountain of bamboo, and created a clear channel for the lines.

P3210940The cut stalks are strong and lightweight, and may be taken home for fashioning into garden stakes, trellises, fencing, wind chimes, or flutes.  The public is invited to make imaginative reuse of this organic debris.



Monday, January 18, 2016

Sixty-plus volunteers reported for duty in the Mapleton Preserve in sub-freezing temperatures and sunshine to make this our most productive Martin Luther King Day of Service ever!  They removed small trees, brush, and vines from around the nursery buildings and chain link fencing, gave breathing room to ginkgos and bonfire maples, cleared a swath of bamboo (in anticipation of running a new electric line to the Propagation House to power a security system), and collected trash in the Preserve and along Mapleton Road.

P1180862         P1180861

Our hardy corps included FPNL members and perennial Day of Service participants, neighbors, four  students from Rutgers, a large, cheerful group from HOPE worldwide, and newly elected Assemblyman (and South Brunswick resident) Andrew Zwicker.  Bob Wells and employees of Wells Tree and Landscape volunteered their time and equipment to do some serious chipping of the fruits of our labors.  We are deeply grateful to all of our enthusiastic volunteers for all that they accomplished.




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Below, some of the HOPE worldwide volunteers warm up in the Education Building (formerly Princeton Nurseries’ blacksmith shop) after their prodigious efforts!



Friday, January 1, 2016

P1010843Three score and ten walkers and five dogs joined President Karen Linder for a hike in the Mapleton Preserve on the bright and chilly inaugural day of the year. The walk started with a loop around the Princeton Nurseries warehouse buildings and propagation house, followed the ginkgo row to a left along the nursery road that runs alongside the Arboretum, and continued across Mapleton Road to the former nursery seedbeds. The return route skirted the D&R Canal to the turning basin, and led back to the Preserve along the path that should be called the  “Osage Orange Trail”  due to the profusion of osage oranges littering the ground!


Photo by Rich Cleary


Thursday, November 26, 2015

PB260800Several families and individuals joined FPNL president Karen Linder for a Thanksgiving Day morning exploration of the Mapleton Preserve.  We searched for items on the menu for the wildlife of the Preserve, such as seeds, berries, bark, insects, and leaves. Some of our special finds were bark fragments beautifully etched by bugs (think hieroglyphics!), plate-sized leaves shed by a London plane tree, a patch of very lively grasshoppers, scores of neon green osage oranges, a perfectly round hole in a fallen oak leaf (the work of a katydid), a clump of teasel, and for one very young lady, some choice puddles!






Sunday, November 1, 2015

PB010729Daniel Harris gave an engaging reading, offering attendees a rare opportunity to listen, think, and share their experience of the poems with the poet and each other.

The audience had many reactions, insights and questions that evoked stimulating discussion, as well as the poet’s thoughts about the poems during their creation and maturation.

Daniel A. Harris is a nationally published poet. His second collection of poems, Random Unisons (2013) followed Loose Parlance (2008). Formerly an author of literary critical studies and a teacher of 19th and 20th century poetry, Daniel Harris turned to writing his own poems upon retirement.

For the past decade he has also worked on numerous environmental issues in Princeton, and is currently focusing on regional land-use issues and sustainable urban planning. For more information, please visit


Saturday, September 26, 2015

P9260567Our goal was to remove brush, vines, invasive saplings, and blown roofing material from alongside the large warehouse complex in the Mapleton Preserve. When our session began, this was the prospect that greeted us.  Armed with hand saws, loppers, and an inspiring esprit de corps, here is how it looked two hours later!


P9260591We are deeply indebted to our clearing crew, and also to five other volunteers who collected trash in the Preserve and along Mapleton Road.  Click on the link below to see what happened between “before” and “after.”


Sunday, August 16, 2015

P8160422Attendees enjoyed a buffet of delectable dishes prepared by Eno Terra, and also had the opportunity to tour the garden–just a half mile away–were many of the restaurant’s fresh ingredients grow in a two-acre plot in the former seedbeds of Princeton Nurseries.  Guided trips through the Mapleton Preserve, the heart of the preserved Princeton Nursery Lands, were also offered.

This year, half of the net proceeds from the event will be donated to the Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands.  We deeply appreciate the generosity of all the Eno Terra folk–the Momo brothers, their staff (who volunteered their time), and the vendors who donated food and beverage.  We also thank all those who supported our efforts by attending this summer celebration!






A tree identification walk at the Mapleton Preserve

Saturday, August 8, 2015

P8080405P8080404Two dozen participants learned some of the basics of tree identification at the Mapleton Preserve using their powers of observation, keys, and reference guides. President Karen Linder began with a discussion of leaves (simple or compound, alternate or opposite, symmetrical or assymetrical, toothed or smooth-edged, etc.), flowers, fruiting bodies, and bark, using fresh branches taken from a variety of trees.  A walk down a nursery path allowed plenty of opportunities to appreciate and learn more about some of the planned and naturally occurring trees of the Preserve–among them, ginkgo, elm, zelkova, witch hazel, beech, maple, linden, redbud, oak, willow oak, weeping cherry, and arbor vitae.






Tuesday, June 16, 2015

“From Witches to Windrows: The Culture of Landscape” 

Aura Star, Professor Emerita of Botany, The College of New Jersey, gave an absorbing illustrated talk to a packed house about landscape architecture and the culture of landscape. On a journey from Stonehenge through Versailles and Central Park to Princeton and Trenton, she talked about changing concepts and styles, and some of the notable architects of the world’s great parks and gardens–among others, Capability Brown, Frederick Law Olmstead, and Beatrix Farrand–and gave us a glimpse at post-modern landscape design by such luminaries as Martha Schwartz ( and Charles Jencks (!the-garden-of-cosmic-speculation).

GardenOfCosmicSpeculationThe Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Scotland


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Debbie Naha, a foraging expert and naturalist who holds an MS degree in Food and Nutrition from NYU, gave a fascinating indoor slide talk followed by a foraging walk and taste testing in the Mapleton Preserve. P4250207









Participants identified and tried many wild edible plants, such as bitter cress, wood sorrel, wild strawberry, cinquefoil, lambs’ quarters, garlic mustard, violets, dead nettle, greenbriar, redbud blossoms, and Japanese knotweed. To learn more, visit Debbie’s web site:



Saturday, February 21, 2015

P2210170On a cold, snowy afternoon, Karen Linder led a walk through the fields of the Mapleton Preserve, observing signs of life in the winter landscape–buds, insect galls, animals and birds, evidence of feeding, tracks, and scat. The Princeton Nursery Lands are a beautiful place to wander in winter!

P221017120150221_143043_resized_120150221_142530_resizedPhotos 1 and 2 by Tari Pantaleo; photos 3 and 4 by Jonathan Michalik


Monday, January 19, 2015

P1190132P1190118On a brisk but sunny afternoon, an enthusiastic crew took on multiple tasks–clearing of vines and brush from an overgrown tree row, cleaning up the butterfly garden, cutting back wisteria along the fence opposite the ginkgo row, removing invasives adjacent to the Education Building, and collecting litter.



Thursday, January 1, 2015

IMG_0102Photos by Jonathan Michalik

One hundred and twenty-two people turned out for our 1.5 mile loop hike through the Mapleton Preserve, into the fields on the other side of Mapleton Road, along the D&R Canal and back to the Preserve.  Getting that many into a photo was a new challenge for photographer Jonathan Michalik, but we think he did an admirable job!


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