Friday, October 29, 2021

May's Barden Cafe is Born

Update: Through the cooler months, May's Barden Cafe will be open the first Sunday of each month, from 10-12, weather permitting. Mark your calendar for Nov. 7, Dec. 5, and so on.

There's a delightful new happening at the Barden in Herrontown Woods. Nicole Bergman, with help from Joanna Poniz, is hosting May's Barden Cafe. 

From 10-12 on Sunday, Oct. 24, they served coffee from Small World and some teas, along with a delicious pastry Nicole made. 

The name comes from Elizabeth Veblen's nickname May. Born in England, May was the force behind developing the tradition of tea in the Princeton math department and also at the Institute for Advanced Study. Nicole and Joanna are very much taking a cue from the Veblens' love of bringing people together. 

The pleasure of conversation and drink mixed well with the weekly workday that was going on at the same time. There's seating and tables at the gazebo as well as at various places along the pathways.

Future openings of May's Barden Cafe are planned for the first Sunday morning of each month, 10-12. That would make Nov. 7 a good time to come by. Thanks to Nicole and Joanna for bringing this idea so quickly from inspiration to fruition.

Thanks to FOHW board member Inge Regan for the first two photos in this post.

Friday, October 8, 2021

The Barden: Building a Better Bridge to the 21st Century

At the Herrontown Woods Barden (short for Botanical ARt garDEN), we like to think we're building a better bridge to the 21st century. 

In this case, it's literally a bridge. The Barden is a collective enterprise that has emerged out of a "fallen forest", where storms had blown down a pine grove planted long ago. Rather than neaten the place up by removing the dead trees, we have used those fallen trees as features and building material. Rootballs have become backdrops for gardens and displays, and in this case a sturdy trunk is becoming a bridge. 
For this bridge, Victorino is the primary visionary and craftsman, using skills and strategies he learned in his home country of Guatemala.

FOHW board member Keena was delighted with the project and helped clear blackberry brambles obstructing the route of the new bridge.

At a recent gathering, main caretaker of the Barden Andrew Thornton thanked the many volunteers who have made the Barden a home to delight and whimsy, along with all the native plants that border its winding pathways. He gave particular thanks to Rachelle Rebarber, Becca Shipan, Ethan Lee, and board member Keena Lipsitz for their devotion to the project in recent years.

The Barden works beautifully for a garden party, with many conversations scattered across its varied nooks and crannies, yet keeping a sense of a common gathering.

The next day, with some extra inspiration provided by the party, it was back to pulling stiltgrass and other weeds. Four years ago, the area we now call the Barden was a dense thicket of invasive, nonnative shrubs and vines. Kurt Tazelaar made it a project to turn the tide early on, laying the foundation for all the work volunteers have done since. In addition to 130 species of native plants, we also have a meditation garden, a zen garden, and particularly popular is the fairy garden of moss, sea shells, and mushroom sculptures. 

Volunteer workdays are Sunday mornings starting around 10am and continuing into early afternoon. 

Event at Veblen House Highlights Need to Preserve Old Growth Forest

On Sept. 24, the Friends of Herrontown Woods hosted a talk by Joan Maloof, author most recently of  Treepedia: A Brief Compendium of Arboreal Lore. The event was sponsored by the Princeton Environmental Film Festival, whose 2021 online programming begins Oct 12 and runs for two weeks.

From Joan Maloof's talk, it was clear that her deepest passion is for saving old growth forest. She founded the Old Growth Forest Network, which is seeking to save old growth in every county of the nation. She is seeking county coordinators to explore their respective counties for the best example of old growth forest. It's not clear whether Mercer County has one as yet. 

Mentioned during the talk was the great value of the 90 acre Landwin tract, which borders Herrontown Woods to the north and is currently threatened with development. The Ridgeview Conservancy is leading efforts to save that forest. 

A close look at the photograph will reveal that the Veblen House site has become a place not only for the community to gather, but also is now something of a community chair orphanage, where chairs abandoned curbside in Princeton can find a new home and continue their service to humanity.