If you’re anything like us you’re inspired by hemlock trees, from mighty old-growth forests to small, feathery saplings. At the Harvard Forest in Petersham, Massachusetts, artist-in-residence David Buckley Borden and senior ecologist Aaron Ellison have turned that inspiration into Hemlock Hospice, an installation blurring the lines between art and science with a mission to teach others about the importance of hemlock in Northeastern forests and the threat of hemlock woolly adelgid. The exhibit will open on October 7th and will run through November 18th, complete with guided tours and accompanying science communication exhibition in the Harvard Forest’s Fisher Museum.
Here in New York, as in New England, hemlock is a foundation species that influences its ecosystem beyond its picturesque place in the forest. The loss of hemlocks to HWA would affect the local plant and animal populations, change the local forest soil chemistry, and cause a decline in stream quality and water resources statewide. The importance of hemlock is understated by its ubiquitous presence in New York. As the third most abundant tree in the state, it is so common that it is often taken for granted. Hemlock Hospice looks to highlight hemlocks in the landscape, and shed some of that light on the many ecological benefits that hemlock trees provide.
If you find yourself in central Massachusetts, Hemlock Hospice is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about hemlock trees and their role in the forest ecosystem. You can find more information about the exhibit and about the thinking behind the Hemlock Hospice project on the Harvard Forest website here. If you would like to know more about hemlocks and HWA, you can learn more here.