The Superlative Sugar Maple
Whenever I witness the arboretum’s autumn landscape, I feel like a child again. A tree that I’ve watched all season long begins its colorful fall transformation. Although we have all witnessed this many times over, it always seems like the first time.
Acer saccharum, the sugar maple, stops me dead in my tracks and surprises me every year.

The sugar maple is known for many things, but this time of year it displays some of the best fall color in its native range of the North Eastern United States. It can easily reach eighty feet tall with a dense rounded crown, making it the perfect shade tree in areas that have space for it to reach full potential. Acer saccharum is slow growing, but extremely long lived.

The sugar maple collection at Bayard Cutting Arboretum is largely concentrated in the open fields surrounding the farm. My favorite is the large specimen located next to barn (U-0624). The reach of the lateral branches is close to the height of the plant, defining the habit of one of the oldest sugar maples at the arboretum. We also have newer cultivars, ‘Green Mountain’ and ‘Fall Fiesta’, in this area that differ from the straight species in size and color.
The two most unique cultivars we have are ‘Newton Sentry’ (2019-0031) and ‘Monumentale’ (2020-0203). Both of the trees were selected for their unique columnar habit. They are true collector’s plants that are extremely difficult to find in the nursery trade.
I encourage everyone to walk the arboretum and enjoy the sugar maples during this very special time of year.

-Kevin Wiecks, Landscape Curator
Behind the Scenes:
Fall Edition
The arboretum staff all love when autumn comes around. We enjoy the reprieve from hot temperatures and constant weeds. The continuous watering and mowing dwindles down. The landscape we see every single day is rapidly changing. It is the first time in the year where we don’t panic at the sight of yellowing! There is so much to observe, it is like we are working in a brand-new office.

The swift change in the landscape brings on new tasks and goals. The team switches from weeding, mowing, and edging to leaf cleanup. While we love the great diversity of trees, it does mean that leaves drop constantly from October to January. The staff has leaf clean up down to a science! Depending on location and tree types, we do a combination of mulching, raking, and blowing on a weekly basis. The leaves are mostly mulched in place with a mower, making leaf clean up manageable. 
The next task is both planting and transplanting. Fall is a great time to reflect on what performed well and what needs to change. Our gardeners diligently create lists and plans for each collection. We use this time to remove, transplant, divide and add perennials. This includes specimen trees as well. The past few weeks, we transplanted conifers to new areas where they can thrive. We also planted new specimens such as a tulip tree, willow oak and red maples.
In November, we plant thousands upon thousands of bulbs. This fall we have bulbs being planted in the Old Pinetum, Four Season Garden, Crab Apple Walk and Farm. Unique varieties of snowdrops will be placed in the Nelson W. Sterner Conifer Garden. We also will be planting tens of thousands of daffodils and other perennializing bulbs in large sweeps. Planting bulbs can become a chore, but we never regret it in the spring!
Irrigation is an ongoing project for our staff. All summer long we fix broken sprinkler heads, leaks, and drip irrigation. Repairs are being made up until the very moment we winterize our system. The process of blowing out our irrigation systems is long and detailed. We have plumbers and staff that use an industrial compressor that can create enough PSI for 100+ zones! It typically takes three full days to complete the winterization.
Last but not least, winter preparation. While we absolutely love this time of year, we cannot avoid winter. In the upcoming months the staff will put snow stakes out for safe plowing. We will also create pruning plans so trees are properly addressed. Some conifers are purposely pruned around Thanksgiving so that we have greens for Manor House decorations. The preparation for the holidays is always exciting and takes a big effort from the team and volunteers.
The fall is a magical time of year at the arboretum. It always reminds me to appreciate living on Long Island with four different seasons. There is so much beauty right around the corner, and always something to look forward to.
-Joy Arden, GIS Specialist
Staff Photo of the Month
Joy Arden,
GIS Specialist

A foggy morning view of the sugar maples in the farm field.
Upcoming Events
Save the Date for our 4th Annual Symposium!
Evolution of the American Landscape: Olmsted’s Legacy
February 28, 2022

Fredrick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) was the founder of American landscape architecture. His legacy includes designing the grounds of Central Park, Prospect Park, the U.S. Capitol, Biltmore Estate and Bayard Cutting Arboretum. This year, we celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birthday by presenting a full-day program focusing on his influence on landscape and garden design.

Manor House Tours
There is a lot of excitement in the air because our Manor House Tours are back. The groups are limited to eight guests and everyone must wear a mask on this guided tour. The tours fill up quickly! Call ahead, make your reservation and join our experienced Docents for an hour and a half journey through time. 

Thursday through Sunday 1:00PM
Cost $15 Adult, $7 for children 12 and under
Call 631-581-1002
Arboretum Grounds Tours
The best way to see all that BCA has to offer is to take a “Grounds Tour” that is guided by a friendly and knowledgeable docent. We are offering free tours every Wednesday and Saturday at 10:30 am. We offer private grounds tours at $10 per person with a minimum of 10 on the tour. We hope to see you and your friends soon!
Upcoming Dates: Nov 6, Dec 4
Cost per person: $40
For more info and to sign up: website
Join certified forest therapy guide, Linda Lombardo of Wild Heart Nature Connection, on a walk to reconnect with the natural world around us.
Help Support Bayard Cutting Arboretum
Tax deductible donations can also be made by check payable to
Natural Heritage Trust and mailed to
Bayard Cutting Arboretum, PO Box 907, Great River, NY 11739