Havenwoods is a very disturbed piece of land. Almost every square foot has been plowed, built on, landfilled, or paved.
Before European settlement, Havenwoods was a lowland forest filled with maple, oak, ash, basswood, hickory, beech, and elm trees. Settlers cleared and drained the land. For the next 120 years, Havenwoods was not a woods.
When the last people moved off the land in about 1970, there were very few areas with trees:
- Norway Woods (white oval on map) Near the prison stood stately Norway maples, planted in the early 1900s. Today, these trees are showing their age as they lose large branches.
- Orchards (red ovals on map) There were two orchards probably planted in the 20s or 30s. The apple trees have aged. Today, you are lucky if you find one of the apples before the deer and raccoons eat them all.
- South Woods (yellow oval on map) On the south end of the property, there was a small grove of trees along Intermittent Creek. This "woods" was probably a pasture during the House of Correction days. When the Army took over the land, it probably became a picnic area with mowed grass. In 1983, it was a grassy woodlot without a single wildflower. Volunteers rescued plants from construction sites to plant under the trees. Today, those wildflowers compete with invasive garlic mustard and buckthorn. With the help of staff and volunteers, they will continue to grow and flower each spring.
The South Woods in 1983. Volunteers planted mayapple, jack-in-the-pulpit, wood anemone, and many other spring wildflowers on a rainy May day.
The South Woods in spring 2008! Note: many of the small seedlings surrounding these violets are garlic mustard!
School children helped nature reclaim this land by planting thousands of trees. This picture, from 1986, shows the area between the Norway Woods and Hopkins Street (white oval on map).
Every state forest needs a pine plantation! The staff hoped that having a pine plantation at Havenwoods would give visitors a unique experience - a chance to be surrounded by evergreens without having to travel to the northern part of the state.
From planting day until present, the pine and spruce trees in this plantation have been a challenge. The soil was compacted, so we loosened it. It was full of clay, so we added sulfur. The deer ate the new growth, so we fenced some of the trees. The white pines suffered from the poor air quality, so we tried spruce. Many of the trees didn't survive, so volunteers replanted them. The weeds tried to strangle the trees, so staff and volunteers mowed and weed-whacked.
Today, there are a few places in the area that are beginning to feel like a conifer forest. Come and enjoy it, but watch out for the wild parsnip. We're still working on that one!
Rollover the image to see how the plantation changed from 1996 to 2008.
The first tree was planted in the Urban Arboretum in 1985 in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by the Federal Employees Black History Month Committee. Each tree planted in the arboretum was chosen for its ability to survive and thrive in an urban environment. That means these trees are resistant to salt, tolerant of higher urban temperatures, able to grow in spite of ozone and other air pollutants, resistant to diseases and pests, and tolerant of compacted soil, drought, and poor drainage.
Rollover the image to see how the arboretum changed from 1990 (when it was well-populated with small trees) to 2008. Today, the trees have grown to the point that they provide a pleasing welcome mat for visitors and shade for picnickers.