Here at OARDC, we're home to one of the nation's largest collection of crabapple trees...over 800 to be exact. And those trees represent some 300 different varieties. Why? Our research arboretum, Secrest Arboretum, does amazing research on the disease resistance of these beautiful trees. Because as much as they are known for their beauty, they are also known for their ease of contracting diseases like apple scab and frog-eye leaf spot. So our researchers evaluate all of these different varieties not only for their beautiful flowering characteristics, but also for their disease resistance. They even publish their results and offer them up to you, the public, to help you make the very best selections if you're choosing a crabapple for your own home.....and, well, to keep you from becoming "crabby" if you make a bad choice.
So how can you get your kids involved in the science of crabapples for themselves? Here are some quick suggestions:
- Get outdoors! Enjoy the scientific wonders of nature in the spring! This is a fabulous time to talk about the life cycle of plants and how those gorgeous flower blossoms will soon give way to fruit on the trees.
- Look at the effect of weather on the blooms. This year is one of the earliest springs on record....tied with 1998...which incidentally was one of the warmest years globally in the last 1,000 years! Our very own scientist Dan Herms has developed an amazing phenological calendar, and you can check it out for yourself online.
- Evaluate your own plants. See which ones bloom first, longest, last, etc. Are certain varieties or species more prone to disease? As warm weather arrives and the kidders spend more time at home with more daylight hours, spend lots of time outdoors making observations. Science is all around us!