Bowed by Tornado, Some of Them Broken, Famed Crabapples Starting to Bloom

May 4, 2011

WOOSTER, Ohio -- Secrest Arboretum’s famed crabapple trees are starting to bloom, with the peak expected this weekend (5/7-8), but their ranks are noticeably thinner this year. A tornado last fall wiped out about a fifth of them.

“If (visitors) haven’t been here since the storm, they’re going to be surprised,” said Ken Cochran, program director of the northern Ohio facility. Replanting has started, he said, “but there will be some shock” on seeing what’s been lost.

In all, about 150 of the arboretum’s 800 crabapple trees went down, said Jim Chatfield, a Wooster-based horticulture specialist with Ohio State University Extension who is documenting the storm’s damage.

The Sept. 16 twister leveled an entire planting called Crablandia I, for example, plus dozens of old, established crabapple trees along the main road into the arboretum.

Gone, too, are the billowing white crabapples that had lined the entrance to the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), the arboretum’s home. The trees, of a type called White Angel, had stood at the spot where the tornado first hit the campus.

The good news? The crabapples still standing, all 650 or so, are blooming about two weeks later than usual -- perfect timing for seeing them on Mother’s Day. 

Thank the cold, wet spring, Cochran said.

“If the weather goes like it has been, which is cool and moist, then the peak will probably be this weekend,” he said. “That’s kind of unusual. It’s been a late spring.”

Most of another research plot, called Crablandia II, survived, as did almost all the crabapple trees along Green Drive through the arboretum. A number of new crabapple trees have been planted as well, Cochran said, but they’re small and won't have many blooms.

Visiting OARDC and Secrest Arboretum is free and open to the public seven days a week dawn to dusk. Find OARDC at 1680 Madison Ave. in Wooster, then follow signs back to the arboretum.

Also on Saturday is the arboretum’s Plant Discovery Day, a plant and art sale. Hours are 9 a.m.-3 p.m., with hundreds of trees, shrubs, herbs, annuals and perennials, including many hard-to-find kinds, available. Admission is free. Proceeds benefit the arboretum.

For more information, including about the arboretum’s tornado renewal fund, call 330-464-2148 or go to http://secrest.osu.edu/.

OARDC is the research arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

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Author(s): 
Kurt Knebusch
Source(s): 
Ken Cochran, Jim Chatfield