Louis Bauer is Wave Hill’s Senior Director of Horticulture.
Over the next few days, visitors are like to notice a new stump on the edge of the Great Lawn, near the Perkins Visitor Center. Until the early hours this Friday, July 14, it was the home of a Valley Forge elm (Ulmus americana ‘Valley Forge’).
This was actually the second elm we’ve planted in that spot since one of our magnificent copper beeches came down in 2005.
What we like about the Valley Forge elm is that it resists Dutch elm disease, which devastated the elm populations across the U.S. It also grows rapidly when young, its branches gaining as much as 12 inches each year and giving it a lovely shape. But those young branches are also somewhat weak. Here’s a shot of it earlier this year.
Two years ago, the top of the center branch of this young elm, planted a little more than three years ago, snapped off. We hoped that the branches below it would prove to be strong enough to make a solid crown.
Unfortunately, the heavy rainfall we have been experiencing recently, combined with the weakness of the branches results in another clean break, this time right down the center of the tree.
As you can see, this was a blow from which it would never recover, and this morning we removed it. The first elm in that spot, incidentally, came down for the same reasons. In that way nature has of forcing change on us, we have decided to let that corner of the lawn rest for a while, and mull over alternatives to putting another tree in its place.
In the meantime, there is one more elm to admire on the property, an Accolade elm, (Ulmus x ‘Morton’). It was planted about the same time as the one we’ve just lost.
You’ll find it midway between Perkins Visitor Center and Wave Hill House, on the right. Stop to admire it the next time you are headed in that direction.