Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Celebrating the Giving of Nature and People on the 50th Earthday

From this vernal pool, close by Herrontown Road, arises the stream that flows through Herrontown Woods. It is the cleanest tributary of Harry's Brook, fed by the rainwater of eastern Princeton on its journey to Carnegie Lake. Herrontown Woods is "lucky with the water." Even as we play the role of beasts of burden, hauling stepping stones up to muddy sections of trails deep in the preserve, there's a feeling of wealth as the slopes spawn rivulets that merge and nurture the life all around them.

There is an artistry and generosity too in rocks and wood, each boulder distinctively patterned with moss and lichen, and trees deepening in distinction with age.

There is artistry too in the volunteers who give so freely of their time in this timeless place. So many to thank, from our board members to Kurt who has volunteered from the beginning.

More recently, Victorino has brought his skills and vision to our evolving botanical garden next to the main parking lot. Crafting structures out of wood already onsite, he's constructing a welcoming arch,

and has completed a boardwalk

that kids follow on its whimsically meanderings towards a vernal pool inhabited this time of year by tadpoles.

Andrew has also been applying his artistry, adding trails and crafting borders and benches.

A volunteer who lives nearby, Rachelle, is using a fallen pine tree's massive rootball as a backdrop for a meditation garden.

During recent weekends, volunteers have maintained social distancing while cutting invasive shrubs and pulling the weedy garlic mustard from the grounds of Veblen House. The work feels all the more satisfying in this constrained but more peaceful time.

Herrontown Woods was born, first of the generosity of nature and then of the generosity of Oswald and Elizabeth Veblen, who brought together and then donated Princeton's and Mercer County's first nature preserve back in 1957, thirteen years before the first Earthday. Those are the wellsprings of generosity that we tap into and add to, feed and are fed by, in a very giving place perched high on the ridge.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Herrontown Woods is Open During the Pandemic (thus far)

Though state and county parks have been closed, Princeton's nature preserves are still open. That includes Herrontown Woods, since its ownership was transferred from Mercer County to Princeton two years ago.

On the web, however, many sites still state that the preserve is owned by the county. Since the "Herrontown Woods Arboretum" location on google maps still shows Mercer County as owner, the preserve was incorrectly marked as closed.

FOHW is working to get the google maps location transferred to Princeton municipality, to avoid any future confusion.

Interestingly, as of this morning, April 9, the "temporarily closed" label has been removed.

The Friends of Herrontown Woods volunteers have been continuing to restore some of the muddier trails, adding stepping stones and installing "water bars" to divert runoff away from the trail.

Daffodils on the Veblen House grounds. Some of these daffodils date back to the 1950s, when Elizabeth Veblen and caretaker Max Latterman were caring for the grounds. We've cleared the invasive shrubs and vines so that they are visible again.