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Hemlock Hospice is an elegy for the dying New England hemlock forest #ArtTuesday

Hemlockhospice4

Beautiful installation from David Buckley Borden and team featured in The Boston Globe.

You’re walking along in the vast Harvard Forest in Petersham, the air sharp and redolent of fallen leaves, when suddenly you reach a brightly painted wooden barrier. “Trail closed,” it reads. “Safety hazard.” It’s the first stop of the Hemlock Hospice, an art installation and interpretive trail by designer David Buckley Borden and his team of forest ecologists. As its name suggests, the mile-long project is an elegy for the New England hemlock forest, which is dying. “People who walk these trails expect a certain experience and then they run into this,” said Borden. “It’s meant to jar them, to say, ‘You have to think about your woods in a whole new way.’ ”

Part sculpture, part pedagogy, part citizen science, the project speaks largely in artistic metaphor. But the popular Black Gum trail really is off-limits to the public, because its towering eastern hemlock trees have been infected by the invasive woolly adelgid . These tiny beetles suck all the nutrients out of the hemlock’s needles and leave ghost trees, bare and vulnerable to toppling over in the wind. Another stop along the hospice trail offers visitors a row of brightly decorated hard hats.

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