Friday, April 27, 2012

Orchard Trees

Before Doctor Leslie donated the land for Leslie Park Golf Course, he and his wife had been running the land as a farm. On this farm, he planted wheat, corn and other annual crops, but a large portion of the land was devoted to orchards. They had cherries, pears and apples, as well as blueberries and raspberries.  The area where 5, 6, 7 and 8 are now located was predominately pears, apples and cherries. A small portion of this orchard was retained when the course was built. It was originally a 12 row by 12 row section, with a few trees outside of this square. That would have been 144 trees.

When I started with the City of Ann Arbor, there were less than 100 of these trees left. Through the previous 40 plus years, the trees naturally died out. Since the purpose of Leslie Park was to be a golf course and not an orchard, this was not a priority. The life expectancy of these trees is not overly long, and since they were planted around the time of World War II or before, it became clear to me that if nothing was done, we would lose the entire orchard. Since this was an integral part of the strategy for playing holes 6 and 8, as well as an homage to the former use of the land, we decided to start replanting the orchard.

The first step was to decide what to plant. the northern part of the orchard still had 6 cherry trees while the rest are Bosc and Bartlett pears.  It was decided to re-establish the northern part with cherries. The "holes" in the orchard were filled in with a mixture of Bartlett pears, Comice pears, Honeycrisp apples and Red Delicious apples. The apples were added to bring about some of the historcal feel to the orchard, even though this part did not have any apples. We started slowly on the 8 fairway side. This was to get a feel for how to proceed and give us some experience with the different trees. In 2010, we planted 16 apple and pear trees. We soon discovered that the deer love the apple trees but leave the pears pretty much alone. We started to experiment with deer deterrents and finally settled on cages. The following year, we planted another 18 pears and apples, along with 12 cherry trees. This year, we got 8 Bartlett pears, 4 Comice pears and 4 Montmorency cherries. With some failed trees, this brings the total number of new trees in the orchard to 39 pear/apples and 16 cherries. A quick count shows about 10 more "holes" in the original 12x12 square. We are also going to re-establish some pears along the cart path on #8.

A cherry tree with the wire cage around it.

Beside these orchard trees, we planted 40 White Pines (Pinus strobus) in the spring of 2009. These were donated by the City of Ann Arbor's Natural Areas Preservation Division and The Adopt-A-Park program they have spearheaded. In the fall of 2009, we brought in six maple trees. These were 2.5 inches in diameter and were about 12 feet tall when planted. In the following spring, we brought in two more maples that were 4 inches in diameter. In the fall of 2010, we replaced some dead white pines with 4 blue spruce (Picea pungens.)

As a golf course manager, you have to stay one step ahead. As an ancient Chinese proverb says, "The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is right now."

Here is a satellite view of the orchard from a few years ago. You can see the gaps between the rows. These are the holes that we are trying to fill.

View Larger Map

Monday, April 16, 2012

Deep Tine Aerification

On Tuesday, April 10th, a contractor from the company Deep Roots came and aerified the greens at Leslie Park. This aerification was different from the aerifiying that we do in the fall in that he uses solid tines that reach down 14 inches. In the fall, we use our own equipment to aerify with hollow tines to a depth of about 4 inches. The hollow tines allow us to remove soil and organic matter from the soil profile and replace it with sand. This reduces the build-up of thatch and compaction. The much longer tine from Deep Roots enables us to reach deeper into the green and decrease the stratification of the soil. While we were going to be spreading sand, we decided to hollow-tine aerify the collars and outside edge of the greens. This area often gets neglected in the fall due to the fact that we are trying to do as many of the greens as we can in one day. It also gets a lot of wear due to the mowers turning when they do the clean-up pass around the green.

 This is a picture of the topdresser putting down sand on #10 green.

A picture of the outside pass on #8 green. (The deep tine holes are hard to see.)

#5 green, where the holes were not quite filled. The outside pass is toward the bottom of the picture. You can see the deep tine holes better here.

A profile of the hollow tine holes on #8 green.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Irrigation Start Up

The irrigation system is charged and ready to go. This is not because I am worried about the soil moisture levels, but in preparation for aerification next Wednesday. The water is helpful in working the sand into the holes and the turf canopy.  The reason that we drain the irrigation over the winter is to prevent the pipes from freezing. We may get freezing temperatures (in fact tonight may get into the mid twenties) but it should not be cold long enough to freeze the pipes.

Speaking of freezing temperatures, the pear orchard between 6 and 8 is just starting to bloom. I took some pictures just in case the flowers get hit hard by tonight's heavy frost. Enjoy them while you can.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

CTN Interview

An interview with Doug Kelly, Director of Golf, and myself on the City of Ann Arbor's Cable Television Network for the program FYI. In the interview, we talk about the Audubon International Certification as a Co-operative Sanctuary, as well as the Spring Scramble and changes made over the winter to the clubhouse. The interview starts about 7 minutes into the program.

Monday, April 2, 2012

March 2012 Weather Summary

The say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. March 2012 came rather like a ambivalent lion (the first five days had highs in the 30's and low 40's) but the weather quickly turned into a lamb. The average temperature at Leslie Park was 49.8 degrees. The lowest temperature recorded was 20.4 (on the 10th.) The highest temperature was 84.8 degrees (on the 22nd.) The temperature did not reach 85 degrees in 2011 until May 11th. March had three consecutive days with highs above 80 (20th-22nd.) There were 10 consecutive days above 70. (14th-23rd) Only one day did not get above freezing (the 5th.) 8 days had low temperatures below 32 degrees.

Leslie Park recieved 2.26 inches of rain over 6 days. The maximum amount of rain was 0.91 inches on the 15th.

The highest wind gust recorded was 37 mph (March 3rd.) The average wind speed was 4.8 mph. Four days had top wind speeds above 30 mph.