Fort Williams Gateway
As the first landscape to be seen by visitors that enter the Park through the main Shore Road gates, Fort Williams Gateway has the potential to both welcome visitors to the Park and introduce them to the Arboretum Project. Currently, the formal focus of the site consists of a row of aging Norway spruce trees along the wrought-iron perimeter fence, and a long, narrow planting bed of pruned shrubs surrounded by open lawn. Of greater visual impact and appeal are the woodlands to the south and east, and especially the beautiful glade that leads the eye uphill through leaning columns of white birch and dappled sunlight, towards a high stone retaining wall.
Objectives for landscape improvements include removal of some of the formal plantings and controlling invasive plants to preserve the rich tapestry of native trees and understory plants. Exploration by foot will be invited by connecting the existing informal footpath in the southerly woodland part of the site with the woodland area to the east.
- Stacked Stone Retaining Wall (ca 1907): Located at the upland edge of the site, the wall retains the grade at Wheatly Road.
Please visit the Park History page for more information about Fort Williams’ military past.
Featured Problematic Plant: Asiatic bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)
Naturalized throughout the eastern half of North America and long a favorite component of autumn wreaths and dried flower arrangements, Asiatic bittersweet is an aggressive, twining woody vine with rounded leaves, bright orange & red berries, and yellow fall foliage. Highly damaging once established, it climbs high into trees, choking canopies and girdling trunks and branches. Bittersweet spreads by seed and underground runners and, given time, it can over-top and smother entire plant communities with its dense rampant growth.
If using Asiatic bittersweet for wreaths or dried flower arrangements, please dispose of in a sealed plastic bag. Do not compost, since birds and animals will eat the fruit and disseminate the seeds elsewhere.
Featured Beneficial Plant: red maple (Acer rubrum)
Also known as swamp maple due to its abundance in low-lying wet sites, red maple is a fast-growing, medium-sized pioneer species with red flowers in early spring, three-lobed leaves and brilliant red fall foliage. Both flowering and fall coloring occur earlier than other maples. Although more common in open, moist to wet sites, red maple is also adapted to shade and drier, upland conditions. It is native to the eastern half of North America.
Because of its early season of flowering, red maple is an important source of pollen for bees and other pollen-dependent insects. The seeds, contained within winged samaras, are browsed by many species of birds and mammals, and stump sprouts provide food for rabbits and large mammals. Older maples growing in swamps host cavity nesting birds, such as Wood Ducks and red squirrels.