Visit various areas of interest in the landscape, from microclimate hills to brooks to scenic overlooks of the Boston skyline. This 281-acre jewel in Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace of parklands is both a research center and museum of Harvard University and a beloved public landscape open free to the public every day.


Featured Plants & Areas of Interest

December brings cold and snow. Many fruits are still evident on the trees and shrubs, the crabapples, particularly, retain their various colored pomes (fruit) until the birds eat them. A self-guided Autumn Fruits tour will give you an idea of some of the kinds of fruits still to be found, and visible, on woody plants in December. Look at the forms of plants, how they intersect with their neighbors to make intricate patterns against the sky. It is the perfect time to appreciate Bark and bud. Yes, buds are evident for both leaf and flower. See if you can spot the magnolia buds on trees in front of the Hunnewell Building. Conifers continue as a highlight, and other plants that retain their leaves, like rhododendron, holly, and boxwood, add another element of green along with their interesting texture.

Guided Tours

It is the time of year to explore winter in the Arboretum. Register for one of our Winter Wellness Walks in December into March, starting on December 15. Tours are free and open to the public and cover various areas of the collections and landscape. You are requested to register for the Winter Wellness Walks. These tours are appropriate for adults, See the calendar for all upcoming tours.

Tree of the Month

In December, look for our Tree of the Month, Sciadopitys verticillata or the Japanese umbrella pine. The Japanese umbrella pine is actually not a pine, but a unique conifer in its own family, Sciadopitaceae. This conifer, with its whorled needles, is easy to find, as a fabulous specimen is located on the southeast corner of the Hunnewell Building. This tree was accessioned in 1970. Go up close to see the distinctive long needles that radiate out, often with more than twelve needles in a whorl. There are just six plants in the collection, each one worth a closer look. For an in depth article on the Japanese umbrella pine, see this 2018 ARBlog, authored by Associate Director of External Relations & Communications, Jon Hetman.


Visitor Center

Stop by the Visitor Center (located in the Hunnewell Building) and learn more about the Arboretum’s collections, history, and events. Need advice on where to explore? Friendly and experienced Visitor Engagement staff will suggest walking routes, answer questions, and share their Arboretum knowledge.

Classes and Lectures

Hear renowned speakers discuss topics, participate in stimulating discussions, and gain insight into some of the most fascinating areas of science, horticulture, landscape design, and ecology. Prefer a more hands-on experience? Register for a class or workshop and learn how to prune a plant, grow a mushroom, or upgrade your home garden. See the calendar for upcoming classes and lectures.

Art at the Arboretum

The Light You Cannot See
Infrared Photography by Betsey Henkels
Ocotber 2019 – February 2, 2020

Betsey Henkels uses the camera to explore the world in two ways–first by noticing and appreciating objects that she might otherwise overlook, and second, by transforming ordinary scenes into prints that are compelling and unexpected. To make these transformations, Henkels experimented with different techniques–she slowed down shutter speeds, threw subjects out of focus, tipped scenes upside down, and came in close.

Then, she discovered infrared. Infrared is magical and mysterious. The photographer shoots images without knowing exactly what will show up in the print. Looking through the viewfinder of an infrared camera, only the light that’s visible to the eye is seen–not the “near infrared” light that the camera records

Henkels spent many hours in the Arboretum, photographing tree canopies, bark, and above ground roots, hoping to capture their spirits. She photographed them in infrared, which show green as white, darkens the sky, and makes clouds prominent. Strange colors are introduced, and a different fresh and surprising world of Arnold Arboretum trees is opened, even to those of us who already know and love them.

All art shows are free and open to the public. The Lecture Hall is also used for lectures, programs, meetings, and school groups, so please call 617.384.5209 for exhibition availability.