A wander on Peters Hill

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
February 5, 2018

A wander on Peters Hill

Every winter, on brisk sunny days (the colder the better), I find myself drawn to Peters Hill. Last week was no exception. An occasional dog walker or jogger – but no one wandering “off-road” amidst the collections. This wonderful sense of solitude is only broken when I lift my gaze and the Boston skyline appears […]

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Smooth and colorful bark

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
January 16, 2018

Some wonderful moments at the Arnold Arboretum in 2017

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
January 1, 2018

Some wonderful moments at the Arnold Arboretum in 2017

Highlights from 2017_DirectorsBlog

2017 has been a magnificent year at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. The trees, shrubs, and lianas dazzled, but of course, not in exactly the same way as in 2016, or for that matter, any other year since the dawn of time. To begin 2018, I share 12 moments from my wanderings in the […]

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Mountain chestnut oaks outsmart squirrels!

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
December 2, 2017

Mountain chestnut oaks outsmart squirrels!

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Two weeks ago, I wondered why the acorns of mountain chestnut oak (Quercus montana), like most other species in the white oak section of the genus, germinate soon after hitting the ground in the fall. This week, I excavated a seedling, and as you can see, the root system is already well developed, although the […]

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Why do white oak species germinate in the fall?

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
November 20, 2017

Why do white oak species germinate in the fall?

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Over the past few weeks, I have been repeatedly drawn to the North American oak collection on the southwest flank of Bussey Hill. There is something truly grand about this cathedral-like space, with soaring trunks and arched canopies meeting to create a magnificent vaulted ceiling overhead. You enter this architectural and botanical space and are set […]

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Stop and smell the ginkgo seeds

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
November 4, 2017

Stop and smell the ginkgo seeds

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When I look at these pictures, I can practically smell them! And my hope is that you will take my advice and go smell for yourself. Because, no one can be said to truly know the ginkgo without experiencing the aroma of the seeds right about now. Ginkgo biloba is dioecious, with separate seed-bearing trees and […]

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Conifers from around the world; perennial wildflowers from New England

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
September 11, 2017

Conifers from around the world; perennial wildflowers from New England

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As autumn begins to set in, it is getting harder and harder to find woody plants in flower at the Arnold Arboretum. And, humans aren’t the only ones to lament the diminution of flowering in September – insects do too! Under the visionary leadership of Andrew Gapinski, Manager of Horticulture, the Arboretum has been working […]

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Aristotle, a solar eclipse, and the tortuosa European beech

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
August 22, 2017

Aristotle, a solar eclipse, and the tortuosa European beech

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“Why, during eclipses of the Sun, if one makes observations of them through a sieve or through leaves (of a plane tree or another broad-leaved tree, for example) or by joining the fingers of one hand to those of the other, the beams become crescents on the ground?” So wrote Aristotle (perhaps), more than 2 millennia […]

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A small grab bag of early August in the Arnold Arboretum

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
August 15, 2017

A small grab bag of early August in the Arnold Arboretum

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The lianoid Dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla, 43-92*C; left image), growing on the fence around the garage at the Hunnewell Building, is still putting out tender new leaves. The curve in the young stem tells the tale of a plant seeking out structures to curl around for support. The wonderful mass of buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis var. […]

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My favorite flower (this week)

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
July 31, 2017

My favorite flower (this week)

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One of the great delights of walking randomly in the Arnold Arboretum is the unanticipated discovery of a plant heretofore unnoticed. This week, Grewia biloba, a shrub I had never seen in flower, presented itself in full (but subtle) glory. The small white flowers with bright yellow eyes of stamens (pollen-producing structures) are stunning. What appear […]

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