Archive for December 2008

American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree

By Susan Freinkel

In Susan Freinkel’s account of the history of Castanea dentata, the American chestnut, she brings the reader back to a time when this tree was the dominant species of the Eastern deciduous forest. Called a “perfect tree” by some because it grew fast, was long-lived, produced rot-resistant wood, and provided nutritious nuts each fall, this tree was decimated within forty years by the chestnut blight, a blight accidentally introduced in the early 1900s from Asia. The story of this species and its demise is also the story of our country’s industrial past and its current relationship …

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What is LEED Certification?

LEED certification is a “green” buzz word you may have stumbled across in the past several months, but you may be confused as to its purpose and importance. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) developed the LEED Green Building Rating System in 1999 to help improve the quality of buildings and their impact on the environment. Buildings in the United States use one-third of our total energy, two-thirds of our electricity, one-eighth of our water, and transform land that provides valuable ecological resources. Using green design principles helps reduce the negative …

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Cornus sericea ‘Cardinal’

While walking through campus last week on a cold, dreary day, I was pleasantly surprised to see the arboretum popping with vibrant colors and textures. In front of McCabe Library, I enjoyed the beautiful color displays of our red-berried deciduous hollies (Ilex verticillata). At the Harry Wood Garden, I delighted in the beautiful showing of delicate camellia blossoms (my favorite is Camellia oleifera ‘Winter’s Interlude’.) However, one of the most striking spots I came across during my winter stroll was in front of Sharples Dining Hall. Here, amid the richly textured bark of several paperbark maples (…

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