Adult Education

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is a community resource for education, offering a variety of learning opportunities including lectures, classes, workshops, and tours of our living collections and historical landscape. Join us as we explore the biology and horticulture of woody plants, and delve into topics related to Earth’s biodiversity and evolutionary history, the environment, conservation biology, and key social issues associated with current science.

Featured Programs

Nature's Ambassador


Nature’s Ambassador: The Legacy of Thornton W. Burgess

Christie Palmer Lowrance, Author and Writing Instructor
1 Session: Wednesday, May 18, 7:00–8:30pm
Location: Hunnewell Building

Do you recall tales of Old Mother West Wind, Jimmy Skunk, Sammy Jay, Reddy Fox, Grandfather Frog, or Jerry Muskrat? For over 100 years, the animal books and stories of beloved children’s author Thornton W. Burgess have delighted millions of children and their parents; more than of half his seventy books remain in print today. However, there was much more to Burgess, the man, than just a writer of children’s books: he was a dedicated naturalist who was honored by prestigious scientific institutions for his advocacy of wildlife and conservation practices that resonate today. His books, syndicated columns, and radio programs both entertained and educated children, introducing them to wildlife habitat, species extinction, and roadside litter. In Nature’s Ambassador, Christie Lowrance explores Burgess’s life and legacy, from his Cape Cod childhood to the present.
Fee Free members, $5 nonmember

Read Christie’s blog post about Burgess as conservationist.

Register online or call 617-384-5277.


Pruning Project: Taming the Early Season Bloomers

Jen Kettell

Pruning Project: Taming the Early Season Bloomers

Jen Kettell, Arborist and Horticultural Educator
1 Session: Monday, June 6, 6:30–8:30pm
Location: Hunnewell Building

Now is the time to prune those early-blooming shrubs–once they’ve flowered–so their growth through the summer can fuel the development of next year’s buds. ISA-certified arborist Jen Kettell will focus your attention on the kinds of shrubs that should be pruned now, various pruning cuts, and the type of thinning that will encourage health and vibrant blooms for years to come.
Fee $25 member, $35 nonmember

Register online or call 617.384.5277.


Boston Premiere of Inuksuit



A Composition by John Luther Adams
Directed by Maria Finkelmeier and Amy Garapic

Sunday, June 12, 3:00–4:30pm (rain or shine)
Bussey Street Gate [pdf], Arnold Arboretum


On June 12, the Arnold Arboretum and Kadence Arts will host the Boston premiere of Inuksuit —a 75 minute work for percussion ensemble that is designed to heighten awareness of the sights and sounds that surround us every day. Composed by John Luther Adams and performed in major cities around the globe, the piece will feature nearly 90 New England-based percussionists, dispersed throughout the conifer collection of the Arnold Arboretum. Inuksuit is deeply influenced by John Luther Adams’ belief that “music can contribute to the awakening of our ecological understanding. By deepening our awareness of our connections to the earth, music can provide a sounding model for the renewal of human consciousness and culture.”

The Arnold Arboretum is opening its gates to Kadence Arts for this production. Kadence Arts has recruited an ensemble of professionals and students that will perform Inuksuit using conch shells, gongs, maracas, air horns, drums, sirens, cymbals, and glockenspiels, nestled among the trees of the conifer collection. Attendees will be encouraged to roam throughout the performance area, allowing for an individualized and personal listening experience.

John Luther Adams has been praised as “One of the most original musical thinkers of the new century” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker ). Adams was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his symphonic work Become Ocean , and a 2015 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.

Presented jointly by the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University and Kadence Arts. Directed by Maria Finkelmeier and Amy Garapic.


This event is open to all and is donation-based. As a self-funded organization, the Arnold Arboretum relies on the support of members, donors, and visitors to fund engaging programs for the public like Inuksuit, as well as the ongoing management and care of our landscape. Any amount is welcome, and helps maintain the Arboretum as a valuable community resource. Address questions to or call 617-384-5277.


More Info:

Read the New York Times’ review of Inuksuit at the Make Music New York festival.

Watch the video to learn more about Inuksuit from the composer, John Luther Adams:

Inuksuit Video Img with frame