Sunday, March 24, 2019

Frog Season at Herrontown Woods

The email came the night of March 15 from Lisa, our lookout and Herrontown Woods neighbor, who said that frogs were crossing Herrontown Road in abundance, headed towards the vernal pools in Herrontown Woods. Road crossing is risky for the frogs, and there's talk of working with the town next year to warn motorists to keep an eye out when traveling that section during those spring nights when the frogs are moving en masse.

The frogs are having a good time in rain-soaked Herrontown Woods this spring. This vernal pool, in a depression left by a blown down tree, is one of two just 100 feet down the red trail from the main parking lot off of Snowden Lane. The wood frogs will probably dive down when you approach the pool, but stand still and soon they will pop back up, and float there in a relaxed sprawl. One of the clusters of eggs is denser than the others, which means it was more freshly laid. The eggs soak up water and expand, and when visited a day or two later looked like all the others.

My friend Fairfax sent a link to a good primer on frog egg identification.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Explorer Backpacks to Borrow at Princeton Public Library

Thanks to an initiative by board member Inge Regan, the Friends of Herrontown Woods contributed leaf identification cards to the Princeton Public Library's new explorer backpacks. 

The library describes the backpacks, available at this link, as:
"Ideal for inspiring families with children to explore the great outdoors, each backpack includes information about Princeton open spaces, compass, binoculars, magnifying glass, New Jersey pocket field guides, nature log and more. Available for check out at the Youth Services information desk. Funded by the Princeton Environmental Film Festival.”
Some of the photos and text on the leaf ID cards can also be found at this link.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Spring Flower Bulb Donation

Thanks to Princeton's Ace Hardware for donating their unsold spring bulbs to the Friends of Herrontown Woods! FOHW's vice president, Perry Jones, coordinated this donation, and helped fill up the back of Old Green with the partially filled boxes.

The bulbs will help recreate the english garden that once graced the grounds of Veblen House. Fortunately, we have photos of what the grounds looked like in the 1950s, while the Veblens were still alive, supplied to us years back by longtime resident of the Veblen House, Bob Wells. The photos show a clear emphasis on tulips, daffodils, and primrose. Elizabeth Veblen no doubt inherited her love of gardening from a youth spent in England.

Now is the time to identify all the boulders in these photos. That's Elizabeth in the photo, enjoying a brisk spring day, with daffodils holding forth along the edge of the field. The grounds were taken care of by Max Latterman, who had first worked for the Whiton-Stuarts before the Veblen's bought the house.

These low-growing yellow flowers are winter aconite, not to be confused with the closely related but highly invasive lesser celandine (also called fig buttercup).

The split rail fence that formed an oval around the Veblen House was planted with lilies and peonies, with fruit trees nearby. Some posts from that fence remain standing, due to having been made of rot resistant black locust.

Another photo with Elizabeth posing at the back of Veblen House. One of the house's two balconies, possible added by the Veblens, the better to view the garden, can be seen just up and to the left behind Elizabeth.

Looking the other direction, towards the Veblen Cottage from the back side of the house, this photo shows the curious structures that once graced the grounds: a dovecote and a hay barrack.

A dogwood tree, tulips and primrose, all cared for by the Veblens, her friends in the Dogwood Garden Club, and longtime caretaker Max. The son of the Kennedys, who lived nearby, said that going to the Veblen House felt like walking into a Beatrix Potter story.