When visitors enter the Arnold Arboretum’s Arborway Gate, they are greeted by the historic Hunnewell Building. Since its construction in 1892, the Hunnewell Building and its landscape have undergone several renovations. The most recent major refurbishment, which overhauled the building’s structure to improve accessibility, took place in 1993.
Twenty-three years later, the Hunnewell Building entranceway is getting another revamp. Arboretum curation and horticulture staff are working on several improvements to the building’s landscape, with the idea of using iconic plants to transform it into a microcosm of the larger Arboretum landscape. This involved the removal of some accessions that were performing poorly, which will be replaced by plants with symbolic ties to the Arboretum’s mission.
Some elements of the new design remain true to earlier designs and pay tribute to the Arboretum’s history and role in plant exploration and introduction, such as the two specimens of Ilex pedunculosa (longstalk holly), a species introduced to the Arboretum and Western gardens from Japan in the 1890s by founding director Charles Sprague Sargent. New additions reflect the Arboretum’s work in conservation and horticulture, as well as illustrate the close relationship between plants of eastern North America and eastern Asia. Some of these additions include Acer griseum (paperbark maple), Ilex glabra ‘Peggy’s Cove’ (a cultivar of inkberry), and Rhododendron vaseyi (pinkshell azalea).
To prepare the site for replanting, the horticulture team removed a layer of topsoil, treating and enriching the substrate with mulch, compost, and sand. The team also installed a modern irrigation system to ensure that new plantings receive adequate moisture until they become more established.
A Tree Mob™ on March 22 led by horticulture team members Jed Romanowiz and Greg LaPlume offered the public a chance to learn more about the work in progress. Staff anticipate completion of the project by the end of April, and will showcase an aesthetically inspiring preview of the institution’s legacy of plant exploration, conservation, and horticultural management. Be sure to visit this spring to see the changes for yourself!