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

Tree Mob™!

Jack Alexander

Collecting, storing, and triggering seeds to germinate is a tricky business. It requires patience, skill, and knowledge. It also requires an understanding of the various means of seed dispersal and the environments and processes that allow seeds to sprout in their native habitat. Mimicking nature is the key to success. In this tree mob, Propagator Jack Alexander and Manager of Plant Production Tiffany Enzenbacher will show some of the fruits, nuts, and seeds that are in line to become a new generation of Arboretum plants and speak about the treatments that various seeds undergo to trick them into sprouting. Meet inside the Dana Greenhouses on Wednesday, October 7 at 1:00pm.


The Brother Gardeners

Brother Gardeners adult education class

Andrea Wulf, Historian

1 Session: Tuesday, October 6, 7:00–8:30pm

Bringing to life the science and adventure of eighteenth-century plant collecting, The Brother Gardeners is the story of how six men created the modern garden and changed the horticultural world in the process. It is a story of a garden revolution that began in America. In 1733, colonial farmer John Bartram shipped two boxes of precious American plants and seeds to Peter Collinson in London. Around these men formed the nucleus of a botany movement, which included famous Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus; Philip Miller, bestselling author of The Gardeners Dictionary; and Joseph Banks and David Solander, two botanist explorers, who scoured the globe for plant life aboard Captain Cook’s Endeavor. As they cultivated exotic blooms from around the world, they helped make Britain an epicenter of horticultural and botanical expertise. The Brother Gardeners paints a vivid portrait of an emerging world of knowledge and gardening as we know it today.
Fee Free member, $20 nonmember
Register at or call 617-384-5277.
Offered with the Massachusetts Historical Society


The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World

Invention of Nature

Andrea Wulf, Historian

1 Session: Monday, October 5, 6:00–7:00pm (Reception at 5:30pm)

Andrea Wulf reveals in her new book the extraordinary life of the visionary German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) and how he created the way we understand nature today. Though almost forgotten today, his name lingers everywhere from the Humboldt Current to the Humboldt penguin. Humboldt was an intrepid explorer and the most famous scientist of his age. Wulf traces Humboldt’s influences through the great minds he inspired in revolution, evolution, ecology, conservation, art and literature. In The Invention of Nature, Wulf brings this lost hero to science and the forgotten father of environmentalism back to life.
Fee Free member, $20 nonmember
Register at or call 617-384-5277.

Offered with the Massachusetts Historical Society


Introduction to Botany

Dr. Kanchi Gandhi

K. N. Gandhi, Botanist, Harvard University Herbaria
8 Sessions: Tue Sep 29, Oct 6, 13, 20, 27, Nov 3, 10, 17, 6:30–8:30pm
Location: Harvard University Herbaria

Learn botany from dedicated instructor and plant nomenclature specialist Kanchi Gandhi. Among the topics to be explored: plant cells and tissues, anatomy and morphology, reproduction, nutrition, growth and development, plant diversity, evolution, classification, and nomenclature. This course, offering both lecture and laboratory activities, introduces botany to new students or serves as a refresher course. Required text: Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon.
Fee $225 member, $270 nonmember
Credit MCLP: 1ceu; MCA: 1ceu
Offered with the New England Wild Flower Society


From Seed to Tree

Jack Germinating Seeds

Greenhouse Staff

Choose from the first Tuesday of the month, May through October, from 1:00-2:00pm

Did you know that almost all of the new plants in the Arboretum begin their lives in the Dana Greenhouses? Get a behind-the-scenes look of the greenhouse growing process, from seed to sprout to seedling to tree. Meet at the Bonsai Collection. There is a 15 person maximum.

In case of inclement weather, contact 617.384.5209.