In an age when near instant gratification can be found with the click of a mouse at Amazon, it is worth remembering that when the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University “orders” up new plants and species for the grounds, there is nothing instant (or easy) about this. Weeks and months go into planning where to go, deciding what to collect, obtaining collecting permits, getting into the field, finding the actual plants in seed or ready for vegetative propagation, documenting each collected seed or plant, and finally, as is the case this week for Kyle Port, Manager of Plant Records, improvising as forest fires rage in remote areas of Washington and Idaho.
Each morning, Kyle and collecting team partners Paul Warnick (University of Idaho Arboretum), Larry Hufford (Washington State University), and David Port (Kyle’s father) check in with U.S. Forest Service Ranger Station staff on road closures and figure out alternate collecting sites. Then, off to the field to collect new plants to be grown at the Arnold Arboretum.
Enjoy the photographs of Kyle along the banks of the Priest Lake River where he collected cuttings of three North Idaho willows (note forest fire smoke in background): Salix lasiandra var. caudata, Salix sitchensis, and Salix exigua. The hotel room is stuffed with ice chests to keep plants cool and fresh, herbarium presses to collect documented samples of the plants, and loads of bags for seeds and plants parts that will head immediately to our propagation facilities at the Dana Greenhouses in Jamaica Plain. In only six or seven years, these plants will finally be ready and of size to go onto the grounds and join the living collections of the Arnold Arboretum for the next century or two.
Nothing instant about that!
-Ned Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum