(PRINCETON, NJ) -- The Friends for Abbott Marshlands has announced the Tulpehaking Nature Center’s limited reopening on weekends. The hours are 10:00am to 4:00pm on Saturday and 1:00pm to 4:00pm on Sunday from now through the end of August. In the ongoing photographic exhibit on display, “Wisdom of Trees: The Art and Science of Trees,” photographers Patricia Bender and Dr. Mary Alessio Leck explore the art, life, and science of trees, our marvelous sentinels of the forest.
This exhibition in two galleries seeks to combine science and art in ways that will increase our understanding and enjoyment of the trees that grace our area and the planet. Originally opening February 21, 2020, a wonderful, well-attended reception was held February 23 for family, friends, colleagues, and the public. But it wasn’t long afterward that the nature center was closed for 17 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the show would have been open for several more months in 2020 until July, it’s fitting that the exhibit reopens this month for four additional months through November 2021.
One of the best aspects of this exhibit is how different each of the photographers treats her subject matter. It’s a must-see exhibit. Mary is one of the founders of the Abbott Marshlands with a lifetime of botanical research in the marsh as well as published papers and coauthored a book, Ecology of Soil Seed Banks. She is also an accomplished photographer who has exhibited her work in Princeton and beyond.
In connection with the Wisdom of Trees Exhibit, affiliated programs held in 2021 were: two Winter Tree Identification Workshops in January with Pat Coleman and Nick Alpeza; A Wildflowers and Trees walk at Northern Community Park with Mary Leck in April, and Trees at Joseph Bonaparte’s Point Breeze walk with Rider professor Daniel Druckenbrod in early June. An upcoming tree workshop is planned as well as insect and mushroom walks. Check the website events page and Facebook event posts to register.
Hiking the trails on the Abbott Marshlands’ preserved lands during the pandemic has meant so much to the local communities of Bordentown, Trenton, and Hamilton during this challenging time. Being outdoors, smelling the freshness of the air and looking at natural images while “forest bathing” are proven to calm visitors and provide respite in a constantly changing world. Having the nature center open again will also help to provide educational resources, answers to questions, access to bathrooms, etc. Private family tours are available at a fee and by appointment via Tulpehaking Nature Center naturalists at 157 Westcott Ave., Hamilton. Call Kelly Rypkema, at 609-888-3218 if interested. There are free weekly and monthly group walks with registration at rotating locations between Hamilton, Trenton, and Bordentown: Watson Woods, Spring Lake at Roebling Park, Northern Community Park, Bordentown Bluffs with Crosswicks Creek Water Trail, and D&R Canal State Park between Bordentown and Trenton. Another location will be added this year in Point Breeze, the historic former estate of Joseph Bonaparte.
The Friends for the Abbott Marshlands have organized and sponsored a variety of programs with the intent of educating people about the marsh. Programs have included field and canoe trips, trail maintenance and clean-up activities, symposia, and biannual Voices for the Marsh juried photography shows. In 2020 they began The Abbott Marshlands Inspiration Showcase, an online exhibit of art, poetry, prose, and photography held seasonally to show appreciation for the Marshlands and how it affects visitors personally. The current show is open for entries through August 15.
Next year, they hope to celebrate in person the important 20th anniversary milestone of the Friends for the Abbott Marshlands. It is a great team of volunteers who give countless hours maintaining trails, trash clean up, helping with tree or pollinator plantings, and leading group walks and specialty talks. As their website states, “Nulelìntàm èli paan. (Lenape, ‘I am glad because you came’)”
The Abbott Marshlands -- The Abbott Marshlands Council works toward supporting stewardship, preservation, and protection of the Abbott Marshlands. Members of The Abbott Marshlands Council are private citizens, representatives of public and industrial landholders, and other parties. In 1999, preservation of these marshlands began as a project of D&R Greenway Land Trust, following a recommendation of the Hamilton/Trenton Marsh Management Plan Council. They later developed the Cooperative Stewardship Plan in 2010, an updated blueprint for stewardship and management.
The Friends for the Abbott Marshlands, organized in 2002 as Friends of the Marsh, is a grassroots organization of volunteers dedicated to enhancing appreciation and protection of the Abbott Marshlands. Their mission is to engage and inspire a diverse community to experience the unique nature and history of the marshlands with surrounding upland woods. In 2011 the name was changed to Friends for the Abbott Marshlands to acknowledge the historical and natural significance of the area. The Abbott Farm Historic District is the first National Historic Landmark archaeological site in New Jersey, designated by the US Department of the Interior on December 8, 1976. It is named after Charles Conrad Abbott. His early archeological work and writings spurred much research there. It is the largest known Middle Woodland village of its type on the east coast of the United States.
IMAGES: (TOP) Photo by Mary Leck (MIDDLE) Photo by Patricia Bender (BOTTOM) Vista Spring Lake in May