Bryn Mawr Grounds Manager on How Bryn Mawr’s Trees Weather the Storms

Posted September 15th, 2011 at 11:35 am.

Record rainfalls and hurricane-strength winds have wreaked havoc in many areas surrounding Bryn Mawr’s campus in recent weeks as downed trees have led to damaged homes, power outages and commuting headaches.

While downed power lines did lead to the closure of New Gulph Road, English House, and Russian House for more than a day following Hurricane Irene, only one of the 3611 trees on Bryn Mawr’s campus—a locust in the wooded area near the president’s housewas lost.

“There’s a lot of planning and forward thinking that goes into maintaining the campus,” says Bryn Mawr Assistant Facilities Director Ed Harman, who manages the grounds. “A big part of that is monitoring the health of our trees and ensuring that we’re providing not only a beautiful but also a safe environment.”

Harman credits the lack of downed trees on campus to careful pruning, which allows wind to flow through trees rather than get caught in the branches, and an effort in recent years to remove potentially dangerous trees.

Harman came to Bryn Mawr three years ago and instituted a five-year maintenance cycle for the care of the campus’s trees.

In the past three years, 54 trees have been removed from campus for various reasons. This year, however, only six trees have been removed, and Harman has been able to shift his focus more to the maintenance of the current trees. That focus will continue over the next two years, along with a more aggressive effort to plant new trees.

“There are some oaks missing along senior row that we’d like to replace. Right now the campus has a 43-percent canopy. We’re hoping to get that up to 50-55 percent in the next 10 years,” says Harman.

In deciding what trees to plant, Harman says he looks at a number of factors and tries to ensure a variety in terms of size, appearance, and lifespan.

“There are a lot of variables even just on this campus. Some areas are more prone to wind gusts than others. Other places tend to collect water. My job is to make sure we choose the right plant for the right place,” says Harman.

Bryn Mawr has been named a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation and has six state-champion trees on its campus (state champion trees are the largest of their kind on record in the state).

For many years the oldest tree on campus was a sycamore located between the Benham Gateway building and the Wyndham Alumnae House. That tree came down in 2009, and the oldest tree is now believed to be a mazzard cherry (seen in the slideshow above providing a perch for Sara Powell ’15) that stands between Rhoads and Canaday and is probably about 225 years old.

Harman is planning to have a new online tree map ready in November. He encourages any members of the Bryn Mawr community with questions or concerns about the Campus’ grounds to call or email.




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