Cosmopolitan Meadow

Cosmopolitan Meadow at Weld Hill


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Purchased by Harvard University in 1922, the parcel is named for the family who farmed here and buried some of their kin in the small cemetery at the base of Peters Hill. Not included in the landscape opened to the public as part of Harvard’s 1882 agreement with the City of Boston, Weld Hill served various horticultural purposes over the years but never held significant Arboretum collections.

In 2011, the Arboretum opened the Weld Hill Research Building in the northwest corner of the parcel to increase its capacity to conduct research in the plant sciences. Terraced into the hillside, the building occupies less than a quarter of the Weld Hill landscape. The remainder of the parcel is characterized by mature woodland and open pasture. Weld Hill itself rises 172 feet, planted from top to bottom with a wildflower mix developed by Senior Research Scientist Emeritus Peter Del Tredici.

Plants chosen for this “cosmopolitan urban meadow” were selected on the basis of their ability to fulfill a number of ecological and aesthetic criteria. Peter selected tough perennial species with a range of bloom times to provide visual interest and pollinating activity over the entire course of the growing season. The native and non-native species growing here thrive in typical urban soil and create a long-lived, attractive meadow. The hillside is mowed once a year—in fall—mainly to prevent incursions of woody plants and grasses.

Cosmopolitan Meadow

Weld Hill comprises fourteen acres of rolling landscape adjacent to the southwest boundary of the Arboretum. It lies at the juncture of Weld and Walter Streets, bounded to the west by Centre Street and to the north by the Hebrew Senior Life complex.

Though the Weld Hill Research Building and parking lot is closed to the public, visitors are invited to enjoy walking through its surrounding landscape. On-road parking is available on Walter and Bussey Streets.

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Highlights Plants found in the cosmopolitan urban meadow include:

Achillea millefolium yarrow Asteraceae summer
Aster (Symphytrichum) pilosus white heath aster Asteraceae fall
Cichorium intybus chicory Asteraceae summer
Leucanthemum vulgare oxeye daisy Asteraceae spring
Tanacetum vulgare tansy Asteraceae summer
Rudbeckia hirta blackeyed Susan Asteraceae summer
Lotus corniculatus birdsfoot trefoil Fabaceae spring
Trifolium hybridum alsike clover Fabaceae spring/summer
Trifolium repens white clover Fabaceae spring/summer
Vicia cracca bird vetch Fabaceae spring/summer
Lolium perenne perennial ryegrass Poaceae spring
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