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Dr. David Hewitt, Botanist, to Appear at the Historical Society

I have to admit, I never thought I would be into botany in any serious way but David Hewitt can turn you around on that issue.  He knows Frankford and likes to walk around our open spaces to see what lies ahead.  I took two tours with him through the cemeteries and he has a way of showing you things you have been seeing but never really seen.  Well worth a trip to the HSF this month.

Historical Society of Frankford

Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Salad and Dessert Social
Guest Speaker
Dr. David Hewitt, botanist – Academy of Natural Sciences

Cemeteries As Green Spaces
Cemeteries provide more than a resting place for our
dearly departed. There is abundant history and diverse
flora and fauna. Join us as David, an urban ecologist,
reveals the many ways that cemeteries are important.

Bring salad or dessert to share starting at
6:30 PM
The presentation begins at
7:30 PM
Admission free-  Donation accepted

1507 Orthodox St. Philadelphia, PA 19124

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Oakland Cemetery, Where the History Lies Beneath

Doctor David Hewett recently did a walking tour of Oakland Cemetery.  I could not attend but he posted some reflections of that tour on his blog here.  Dr. Hewitt, Botanist, from the Academy of Natural Science and walking with him outdoors is like taking a trip back in time.  I look at a tree and see a tall thing made of wood.  He looks at a tree and see history.

In between Friends Hospital and Greenwood Cemetery, just a bit off Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia, is Oakland Cemetery.  Friends Hospital, founded in 1813, is the oldest private psychiatric hospital in the US, and it also has a beautiful landscape – with its azaleas along the way down to Tacony Creek behind it, with its enormous American elm tucked away into a corner behind one of its buildings, and with the many other trees and flowers dotting and shading it throughout, it’s a surprising little refuge of calm and color in the city, as traffic along the Boulevard rushes by, just beyond the gates and fence of the hospital’s grounds.

You should read the rest of the story here.  It is well worth your time and you might want to take the next walking tour when it comes along.

Thanks for Mary Ellen Post for the tip.

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Nature Walk at Wissinoming Park

Dr. David Hewitt, Botanist, from the Academy of Natural Science and Tony Gordon, local tree enthusiast are leading a Nature Walk at Wissinoming Park on Monday June 25th at 3 PM.  Meet at Wissinoming Park at Comly St. and Frankford Avenue Entrance.

Wissinoming Park has an interesting history which you can follow up on at this link.




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The Largest Sugar Maple

Very big sugar maple

“If you want to learn something, hang out with people smarter than you are”, so said a wise man.  We took a tree walk on Friday on a beautiful afternoon and learned a lot.  The setting was the revived Knights of Pythias – Greenwood Cemetery at Adams Avenue and Ramona Street.

Leading the group was Dr. David Hewitt from the Academy of Natural Sciences, a very amiable fellow who never made me feel ignorant.  Along with Dr. Hewitt was Edward (Ned) Barnard who is famous in his own right as the author of “New York City Trees” as well as a very nice series of children’s books.

I have a slide show ready at this link of a sampling of the trees we found along our journey.  (If you click on Show Info button at the top right it will display the captions.)

The most spectacular to me was the sugar maple that hugs the side of the cemetery along Ramona Avenue.  It stands 72 feet high and is 15 feet around the base.  That makes the diameter about 56 inches.  Ned took careful measurements and pictures of course.  You don’t see many that large, so I am told.

We also saw American Sycamore, White Cedar, Black Cherry, Silver Maple, Pin Oak, Willow, Horse Chestnut and Norway Maple.  I may have forgotten some but I noted them on the captions of the pictures.  What we did not find was evidence any plantings dating back to the 18th century.  The trees appear to date to about when the cemetery was planned and laid out.

I also took some pictures of the area of the cemetery not yet restored which you can see here.  Doctor Hewitt mentioned that the rear of the cemetery is actually an early successional forest.  The trouble is the forest has taken over the grave areas and so interspersed with the trees are burials and tomb stones.  They are clearly working on restoring it and it should actually be very nice when that is done.

It was interesting that even among all that overgrowth, we found a new stone recently put down in memory of a Civil War soldier.

It was a great way to spend the afternoon and painlessly educational.


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Tree Walk Through Greenwood Cemetery

A lot of the rural folks who happen to wander into Frankford notice that we sure do have a lot of trees for a city.  Yes we are arborally blessed and this Friday, if you are available at about 2PM, you might want to take a walk with an expert on trees to see what we really have here.

Dr David Hewitt from the Academy of Natural Sciences will be leading the 5th in a Series of Tree Walks on Friday November 4 at 2:00 PM through Greenwood Cemetery, possibly also Oakland Cemetery, if time allows.  The plan is to meet at 930 Adams Ave Philadelphia, PA 19124 (the house on Adams near Ramona).

If you haven’t been to Greenwood since it has been restored, come on out.  It is much different than what you may remember from a few years ago. Sounds like great exercise on a fine Fall afternoon.