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.


Peters Hill

Featured Plants & Areas of Interest

January 2020 is starting out sunny and mild; however, the landscape still slumbers in its rich panoply of russets, ambers, buffs, and ecrus. All those hues, and more, can be found on bark and branch throughout the collections. Download our informative self-guided tour on Bark, then take a look on your own at what wonders winter provides visually. Beyond the individual trees and shrubs that form living sculptures in this elemental backdrop, it is a great season to take advantage of views throughout the Arboretum. Peters Hill offers a spectacular vista over the conifers, all the way to the skyline of Boston. The Conifers themselves are green with texture and design. Take a walk up Oak Path to marvel at the majesty of our Quercus (oak) collection, or marvel at the variety of Betula (birch) on the slope of Bussey Hill. A special Winter Tours brochure, with a map of these areas, as well as plant highlights, plant architecture, wildlife, and much more, is available to be downloaded free or at the Visitor Center for a small suggested donation.

Guided Tours

It is the time of year to explore winter in the Arboretum. Register for one of our Winter Wellness Walks in January through March, starting on January 12. 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.

Close up of the bluish, sharp needles of blue spruce.

Tree of the Month

In January, our Tree of the Month, Picea pungens, blue spruce, is a standout in the winter landscape. Although not native to New England, it is a special sight to see this Rocky Mountain native in the Arboretum’s conifer collection. Needles give this tree its common name, as they are a striking glaucous blue. They are also prickly with sharp tips. Blue spruce takes on the typical, pyramidal shape, we often associate with conifers. The Arboretum collection contains 23 individuals of the species, with three cultivars in the Leventritt Shrub and Vine Garden. Check out Arbexplorer to see where each is located.


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. Through January, drawing and photography students from Brookline High School exhibit work in the Visitor Center, based on their visits to the Arboretum this past fall.

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
October 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.