William & Mary

Crim Dell Meadow

  • Sequoia sempervirens
    Sequoia sempervirens  Closeup of needles on one of the Coast Redwoods.  
  • Redwood Bench
    Redwood Bench  Constructed from wood salvaged after damage to the Coast Redwood trees.  
  • Juglans nigra
    Juglans nigra  A Black Walnut (right) in the Crim Dell Meadow west of James Blair Hall.  
  • Taxodium distichum
    Taxodium distichum  The bald cypress in its natural habitat. Note the buttressing of the trunk for stability in water.  
  • Metasequoia glyptostroboides
    Metasequoia glyptostroboides  The muscular, fluted trunks of two Dawn Redwoods.  
  • Corylus avellana 'Contorta'
    Corylus avellana 'Contorta'  Harry Lauder’s (very contorted) walking stick!  Photo courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden
  • "Spring"
    "Spring"  Crim Dell Meadow provides a natural setting for this sculpture, titled "Spring."  
  • Magnolia grandiflora
    Magnolia grandiflora  Several Southern Magnolias can be found around Crim Dell.  
  • Magnolia virginiana
    Magnolia virginiana  Note the sweet bay magnolia has a white bloom to the undersides of its leaves. Its stature is quite different from the southern magnolia although its flowers are similar.  Bruce K. Kirchoff http://bioimages.vanderbilt.edu/
  • Metasquoia glyptostroboides
    Metasquoia glyptostroboides  Just beyond the far end of the Sunken Garden are the tallest Dawn Redwood trees in North America.  
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The Crim Dell Meadow extends just west of the Tyler and Sunken Gardens, and holds some surprising features and high diversity.  Just below the west brick wall of the Tyler Garden are two large coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) that were shipped to the College from California around Cape Horn and planted as cuttings in 1953.  The northern tree lost a large limb during a 2002 windstorm; and the southern tree lost its top during Hurricane Isabel in 2003.  Adolph Hight, then director of facilities management, saved the debris with the idea of shaping something both practical and unique.  His hope was realized in the bench now placed between the trees – the result of a collaborative effort involving Professor Pease (Art and Art History), students Emily Fraser ’07 and Nathan Burgess ’08, senior carpenter Mike Wood, and College arborist Matthew Trowbridge.

This area also contains a spectacular Japanese full moon maple (Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium') that survived two recent relocations required for new construction!  Other plants on this north end include a weeping willow (Salix babylonica) and native specimens of black walnut (Juglans nigra), eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), and a double-trunked “tree” consisting of one tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) and one American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis).  Various cultivated species blend in to the western wooded border such as Aucuba (Aucuba japonica), chaste tree Vitex agnus-castus and various camellias.  A short jaunt away, across James Blair Drive and toward the Bryan complex, a large American sycamore grows next to a southern red oak (Quercus falcata) and sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua).  A bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) grows on the west side of the Bryan complex.  The bald cypress is found naturally along flat ground near fresh- to slightly-brackish water.  However, it can also be cultivated on upland sites.  Its fine, feathery foliage make it an attractive specimen planting although it will lose its leaves in the fall (it becomes “bald”).

Back at the meadow, its south end showcases two dawn redwoods (Metasquoia glyptostroboides).  Until plant explorers located living trees in 1946 in Szechuan, China, this species was thought to have been extinct for more than 13 million years.  Seeds they collected and sent to the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University were subsequently made available to botanists worldwide, and Professor Baldwin obtained some during a 1948 visit to the national botanical garden of Belgium.  He shipped them back to Professor Bernice Speese, who germinated and nurtured the specimens planted here. Another large specimen can be found behind McGlothlin-Street Hall.  A smaller tree, also grown from seeds distributed by the Arnold Arboretum, is located in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University.  If you visited the bald cypress, note how similar the two species appear.

Exploring around the meadow near the dawn redwoods you can find other interesting specimens including Harry Lauder's walking stick (Corylus avellana 'Contorta'), Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis), a boxwood collection, cypress (Chamaecyparis sp.), river birch (Betula nigra), sweet bay (Magnolia virginiana), eastern Hemlock (Tsuga candensis) and flowering dogwood (Cornus candensis).

Find the bronze statue titled “Spring” (shown in the images on this page) and exit the meadow on the adjacent small trail.  Go south and pass over the Crim Dell bridge.

Pathways around Crim Dell are planted with varieties of rhododendron, azaleas, and spring- and fall-blooming camellias. The eastern end has a stand of bamboo -- Phyllostachys. Carvings on beech trees (Fagus grandifolia) near the bridge attest to generations of student romances. Large stands of Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) present a spectacular display of blooms in May.