Tag Archives: Coker Arboretum

Marking Winter Solstice

Japanese Maple at UNC Arboretum (Dec 3, 2017)

December Solstice (Winter Solstice) Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 11:28 am. This day is 4 hours, 51 minutes shorter than on June Solstice.

The winter solstice indicates the shortest day and the longest night of the year in the Northern hemisphere and brings the first day of winter.

Maple -UNC Arboretum Dec 3, 2017

Tomorrow night residents will gather just after dark at Meadow Park in my neighborhood for Cosmos & Cocoa, a sky-watching event planned by some tireless volunteers on our social committee. While we sip hot chocolate, experts from Morehead Planetarium at UNC will provide a laser guided sky tour with star charts. They will also bring several telescopes so we can view far off stars and planets.

Speaking of Morehead Planetarium: On December 21, 1968 three astronauts who trained at the Morehead Planetarium were launched into space on NASA’s first manned mission to the moon. These men, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders, orbited the moon on Christmas Eve and showed us a new way to view the earth.

Happy Solstice!

The Earth and Moon, Dec. 24, 1968. Image Credit: NASA

Image Credit: NASA

Strolling Coker Arboretum

My husband and I enjoyed a leisurely walk through Coker Arboretum on the UNC Chapel Hill campus this afternoon. It has been a long while since our last visit and the garden, now a part of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, looked beautifully maintained.

I will try to post some more Coker view later in the week. I planned to share lots of photographs, but got side-tracked this evening testing out Mesh, a photo-sharing application. It is available for iPhone, but I just used it from my laptop. I am curious what you think.

Navigate using the arrows at the center edges of the image or the row of dots at the bottom. Click elsewhere on the image to toggle the caption.

Autumn Scenes And Miscellany

I wanted to share a few more details from a recent walk, the day after Thanksgiving, on the nearby UNC Chapel Hill campus.

Native to eastern United States, this Fagus grandifolia var. caroliniana (American Beech) will keep its leaves until spring. The bark of this tree is heavily scarred from numerous inscription carvings.

Fagus grandifolia var. caroliniana (American Beech)-Coker Arboretum

A squirrel sat in front of a large burl on a Catalpa waiting for me to pass. Catalpa speciosa (Northern Catalpa) is native to central United States. Its fruit is a long cigar-shaped pod about 8-15 inches and a common name for this tree is cigar tree.

Squirrel In Catalpa speciosa (Northern Catalpa)

A London Connection

For eighty years London’s Westminster clock tower (Big Ben) was home to three sculptures that are now installed on the south exterior wall of Person Hall on the UNC Chapel Hill campus. In 1933 two gargoyles and a statue of Stephen Langton, 13th century Archbishop of Canterbury, were being removed due to weather corrosion when they were noticed and subsequently acquired for UNC by Katherine Pendleton Arrington.

Big Ben Gargoyle, installed at Person Hall, UNC Chapel Hill

Gargoyle at Person Hall

Statue of Stephen Langton, 13th century Archbishop of Canterbury, Person Hall, UNC Chapel HIll

Person Hall is used now for practice studios for the Music Department, but originally served students as a chapel. When the statues were first added here the building was an art museum. The statues overlook a small garden and bench. Read more about this London connection.

Statue of Stephen Langton, 13th century Archbishop of Canterbury, Person Hall, UNC Chapel HIll

Davie Poplar

The University is 219 years old but one of its famous landmarks is estimated to be 300-375 years old. Davie Poplar is a Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip poplar) and was named after Revolutionary War General, William R. Davie.

The tree was damaged by Hurricane Fran in 1996, but there is a grafting from 1918, known as Davie Poplar Jr., as well as a Davie Poplar III, planted from a seed from the original tree.

UNC’s Davie Poplar, center. Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Poplar)

Autumn At Last

A final image from our post-Thanksgiving campus walk shows shelf mushrooms at the base of another large tree—interesting to see but apparently a sign the tree is in serious decay.

Shelf Mushroom, McCorkle Place

The lawn and sidewalks of the McCorkle Place were covered in multicolored leaves on this day. Someone will gather them up soon, no doubt, but our walk was made much more exciting by hearing the heavy rustle of leaves underfoot. It did seem like autumn at last.

November Walk On Campus

Yesterday was Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD) over at Christina’s which always highlights some interesting leaf, texture and color combinations that can carry the garden year-round. Busy with Thanksgiving and finding my own foliage pretty unremarkable this month, I did not prepare a GBFD entry this time, but today during a morning walk that included a visit to Coker Arboretum, I had a second chance to concentrate on autumn foliage.

Coker Arboretum

Just five and a half miles away, Coker Arboretum is a five-acre treasure on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (my alma mater). It dates back to 1903 when UNC’s first Botany professor, Dr. William Coker, began creating an outdoor lab to study native trees and shrubs. During the 1920s through the 1940s Dr. Coker extended the scope of the garden to include East Asian species, which correspond closely to many plants in North Carolina.

In spring there are beautiful displays of daffodils, in early fall, red spider lilies. Today the majestic trees dominated the landscape, including numerous conifers and magnolias, American beech, Northern catalpa, American Elm, Japanese Maple, pond-cypress and bald-cypress.

Taxodium distichum (Bald Cypress)

This morning a pair of Ginkgos were especially colorful.

Ginkgos At Coker Arboretum

Fallen leaves from the Ginkgos covered the lawn, pathway and the bench too. When school is in session someone is nearly always sitting and reading on the teak benches that are scattered throughout the arboretum.

Carpet of Ginkgo Leaves

The slender tree in front in the picture above is a western Florida native, Magnolia ashei (Ashe’s Magnolia).The USDA plants profile lists this deciduous magnolia as endangered.

Magnolia ashei (Ashe’s Magnolia)-western Florida

Firmiana simplex (Chinese Parasol-tree) is fascinating in any season, but today the white bark seemed very stark.

Firmiana simplex (Chinese Parasol-tree)

Chinese Parasol leaves form dense shade in the summer. This tree is listed as invasive in some states, but not here as far as I could determine. Coker Arboretum now is now under the management of the North Carolina Botanical Garden (NCBG), whose staff is well qualified to evaluate this and all the plantings here.

Huge leaves of Firmiana simplex (Chinese Parasol-tree)

Coker Arboretum’s collection is extensive and there are many more interesting trees and shrubs to share. This final scene for today shows the bright red blossoms of Camellia sasanqua.

Camellia sasanqua