Cleveland, OH

How Holden Forest & Gardens maintains its Ash Research Plot

Terrence Jacobs

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CLEVELAND, OH — In the early summer of 2020, one-third of ‘Lingering Ash’ trees in Holden Forest & Gardens planting were damaged and lost to the windstorm.

This year, Holden Forest & Garden is seeking an attempt to recover the ‘Leaders’ trees to continue researching Ash trees resistant to Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) infestations.

The ‘Lingering Ash’ one of the few trees identified for its resistance and can maintain a healthy crown, while the other 98% of Ash kinds have died from the infestations.

The research plot

In 2016, the Lingering Ash research plot was established as a collaboration between Holden Forest & Gardens and USDA Forest Service. At that time, Charles Tubesing, Holden’s now-retired curator and plant propagator grafted over 1,200 white and green ash to be planted at two sites, Holden and the Dawes Arboretum in Newark, OH.

In the Holden site, the Ash trees were planted in 2.42 acres of land with 26 rows 250 feet long. The last project was to create strong central ‘Leaders’ on the 600 plants at the research plot.

Mitigation attempt

After the storm, the crews pruned out the damaged trees and branches. While the regrowth attempt was successful, the development was somewhat random, where multiple ‘Leaders’ developed and side branches grew out into the aisleways. This has caused many maintenance difficulties.

The crews are now taking the summer of 2021 to prune for a strong central ‘Leader’ and remove branches that grew out and over-extended to the sideways. The goal is to reduce competition for apical dominance and conserve energy for another regrowth.

The genetic selection of trees has shown resistance towards EAB and might be enhanced through further breeding— which means Ash trees may once again be a viable choice for our landscape without worrying much about infestations.

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Ohio-born, Cleveland raised and blessed with wanderlust

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