The End Of A Pear Tree

There will be no partridges in the pear tree at the Mencken House this Christmas. Workmen from Forest Valley Tree & Turf LLC of Jessup, MD, arrived this morning to remove the remaining portion of the Bradford Pear which had split during the derecho of June 29, 2012.

The tree which was cut down was not original to the garden but had been planted to replace the one that was originally there. A reference from 1963 says that the original tree was a “Kieffer pear tree”. In Happy Days Mr Mencken writes that “[t]he pear tree survives to this day, and is still as lush and vigorous as it was in 1883, beside being thirty feet higher and so large around the waist that its branches bulge into the neighboring yards.” In 1982, the tree is described in a newspaper article as “a now scraggly looking pear tree.” The Mencken House was acquired by the City of Baltimore in July 1983 and was opened as a museum on June 15, 1984. Sometime between the acquisition of the house and 1990, the original pear tree was replaced. A Bradford Pear was chosen because it is self-sterile, that is, it will not bear fruit unless it is planted near other pear trees. Fallen fruit attracts rats, creatures not unfamiliar to Baltimoreans.

The Bradford pear was originally cultivated at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Introduction Station in Glenn Dale, Md. and was named in honor of Frederick C. Bradford, a former director of the station. It was introduced in 1963 and was popular until its shortcoming became apparent: it is “a structurally defective tree, inadequate in the slightest wind, likely to split in half” and “highly susceptible to breakage by winds”.

Many thanks to Phil Hildebrandt who arrived early and erected a scaffold which made the workmen’s task easier and saved the garden bed from being trampled.

 

Volunteer inventories garden tiles

The Friends would like to thank Justus Heger for volunteering to photograph and inventory the garden tiles. Heger became interested in the tiles after visiting 1524 Hollins St. during the annual Friends’ open house, volunteering on the spot to photograph and help preserve the tiles. “It’s part of Mencken’s personality, the tiles are everywhere,” Heger said. Heger has taken many photos of the tiles and sent them to a historical conservator in Harrisburg, Pa., for advice on conservation. More tiles will be revealed, he said, when garden growth shrinks during winter weather.

Friends work with city to secure removal of damaged Bradford Pear

The Friends hope to work with the city to secure the removal of the Bradford Pear tree damaged during derecho storm June 29, 2012. Friends vice president Phil Hildebrandt has placed several calls to the General Services department of Baltimore City to request removal. A significant part of the tree is still standing and leans towards the garden.