Emerald Bog: The Oldest Peat in the Catskills

In 1994, I had an idea. Workers in other regions were using macrofossils (needles, leaves, cones, twigs, wood, bark, roots, seeds, fruits, etc.) preserved in bog peat and/or lake sediments to reconstruct the vegetational history of their regions… Could I possibly do that in the Catskills?

Since 1995, I have studied 111 bogs. Previously, the oldest peat samples were from the bottoms of two Catskill bogs tied for first place at about 14150 years. That record held until 2016.

Update on Emerald Ash Borer

Healthy White Ash Trees at Mountain Top Arboretum

On June 14, 2016 our final group of white ash, Fraxinus americana, in the Woodland Walk was treated for emerald ash borer (EAB).

A team led by Cornell University Forest Entomologist Mark Whitmore, Vern Rist (Healthy Trees) and Phil Lewis (USDA, APHIS, Arborjet) injected fifty more ash trees with insecticide.  The insecticide travels through the phloem just beneath the outer layer of bark, killing EAB as it feeds. Ash is a wind pollinated tree and lacks nectaries so this injected treatment will not harm pollinators nor other insects besides EAB.

Forest Walking

Forest Walking
But in every walk with
Nature one receives
far more than he seeks.
~John Muir

In Japan it's called Shinrin-yoku, or Forest Bathing. Japanese studies show that quietly walking in a forest for as little as half an hour dramatically increases signs of relaxation, including lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate and lower blood pressure.

This season, take a walk in through the Arboretum. Stroll through the Woodland Walk, the East Meadow or Black Spruce Glen. Slowly walk, listen, bend down to touch the mosses, and breathe deeply.

Bees at the Arboretum

When most people think about bees, they immediately imagine the pain of being stung.

What they don’t think about is the critical role that bees play in nature, and the wonderful substances they create.  Honeybees are excellent pollinators and increase the production of whatever plants they can find near their hive.  Additionally, honeybees are used in agriculture to pollinate 40% of all the food we eat.

9 Tips for Gardening Green

  1. Minimize water use
  2. Identify lawn and garden problems, researching appropriate organic and biological control methods, and minimize the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers
  3. Minimize lawn areas and mow lawns at the recommended mower setting of three inches, leaving grass clippings in place on the lawn
  4. Minimize use of two cycle gasoline motors when doing landscaping work
  5. Recycle garden waste by composting sod, leaves, and other organic material
  6. Plant the right plant in the right place for the climate, sun/shade, soil, wind and rainfall requirements.
  7. Plant or seed native ground covers in place of traditional mulch.
  8. Prune properly for the health and safety of trees and shrubs.
  9. Consider using native plants appropriate to your area in order to minimize care requirements, encourage pollinators and other wildlife adapted to the native plant species, and to evoke the natural beauty of the land you steward.

Bee Guard Inn


Bee Guard Inn is a sculpture and native bee home created by artist Draga Susanj for the Mountain Top Arboretum’s East Meadow.

The work, which focuses on the threats to native pollinators and their importance to the native plant environment, aims to attract native bees to the “bee hotel” using the hexagonal shape from honey combs.  The hexagonal forms, constructed of cedar, surround organic bamboo shoots that are the bee sleeping pods.   Clay from the Platte Clove Creek holds it all together.

The work was made possible by a grant from the Greene County Council of the Arts, support from local businesses and the Mountain Top Arboretum.