Spring is the time for new beginnings, new leaves, and new plantings at the Arnold Arboretum. Our horticulture team has almost finished planting approximately 150 new trees and shrubs across our 281-acre landscape. Many of these plants were collected as seeds or seedlings, and all were grown and nurtured in the Dana Greenhouses and nursery for years until hardy and mature enough to survive in the landscape. The new additions include a variety of both native and exotic woody trees and shrubs, and each one adds something special to our diverse living collections.
Some of the new specimens represent the first of their species to grow at the Arnold Arboretum, such as the Southern live oaks (Quercus virginiana) being planted on Bussey Hill. Native to the southeastern United States, these regal trees were, until now, not considered hardy enough to survive New England winters. (Read more about The Quest for the Hardy Southern Live Oak in Arnoldia Issue 70/3). Another interesting addition is Cedrus deodara ‘Shalimar’ (Cultivar of Himalayan Cedar), which was first introduced to the Arboretum landscape from seeds collected in India by Friends of the Arnold Arboretum member Henry Hosmer in 1964. (Read more about the introduction of Cedrus deodara ‘Shalimar’ in Arnoldia Issue 42/4). Some of the other new plants joining the living collections include varieties of viburnums, rhododendrons, and maples, among many others.
Before planting new trees and shrubs in the landscape, staff must first dig them out of their temporary locations in the Arboretum nursery. The timing of this relocation is crucial to maximizing their chances for survival on the grounds, and must align with each plant’s phenological timeline. The best time to replant specimens is before they have broken dormancy, so that their energy can be concentrated on encouraging a strong root system instead of directing water and other limited resources to emerging leaves and or reproductive processes. This offers young plants the best chance to establish themselves in their new locations before “waking up” to spring.
Collecting, testing, and documenting plants in cultivation support the Arboretum’s historical role in providing outstanding living collections for research, education, and the enjoyment of the public. This spring’s plantings arrive on the heels of the launch of the Campaign for the Living Collections, a ten-year plant exploration and collections development initiative with an ambitious target list of approximately 400 taxa of woody plants. Over the next decade, seasonal plantings in the spring and fall will continue to build on the Arboretum’s legacy of recording and preserving global biodiversity.
Learn more about the Campaign for the Living Collections and how you can help.