2017 has been a magnificent year at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. The trees, shrubs, and lianas dazzled, but of course, not in exactly the same way as in 2016, or for that matter, any other year since the dawn of time. To begin 2018, I share 12 moments from my wanderings in the Arnold Arboretum this past year.
January 5, 2017. Ilex verticillata ‘red sprite’ (274-2003*B), a cultivar of the common winterberry in the Levintritt Garden, doing what hollies do so well in the winter.
February 10, 2017. A terrific Olmsted “reveal” looking into the conifer collection from the rhododendron collection the day after a magnificent blizzard.
March 5, 2017. Cornus officinalis (8156*A), a near centenarian (accessioned in 1919) Japanese cornelian cherry (not really a cherry, but a dogwood) is always a harbinger of early spring. One of my favorite spots in March is amidst the linden collection on Meadow Road, where this species and its congener (Cornus mas) add a wonderful touch of yellow while the world is still leafless.
April 23, 2017. Acer rubrum (875-93*B), plain old red maple, is anything but plain as the sun shines through a very young fruit that has begun to sprout wings. The red fuzzy forked structure hanging down is the stigma (surface of the flower that catches the windborne pollen). The small delicate flower petals are still evident at top.
May 21, 2017. Asimina triloba (12709*A), the paw paw tree, in flower. Definitely worth hunting for this coming spring. This temperate member of a family of plants (Annonaceae) that is otherwise tropical, has deep crimson flowers with huge numbers of pollen-producing organs (stamens). This centenarian specimen goes all the way back to 1903, and continues to quietly go about its business in the understory of the hickory collection.
June 9, 2017. Viburnum bracteatum (365-2005*B), the bracted arrowwood of the southeastern U.S., with an inflorescence that has a single red flower in the center. This phenomenon is common in the inflorescences of Queen Anne’s lace (Charles Darwin wrote about it), but I can’t find a mention of it in the literature for this species. Why the one red flower? No one knows!
July 9, 2017. Torreya grandis var. merrillii (1087-89*A), a Chinese nutmeg yew selection that appears to have had its origins in the Tang Dynasty. The needles are delicate and translucent in the mid-summer – right on the Chinese Path on Bussey Hill.
August 20, 2017. Lonicera gynochlamydea (1723-80*E), a Chinese species of honeysuckle, from a seed collected on the Sino-American Botanical Expedition in 1980. The light purple fruits were translucent and you can see the seed inside.
September 7, 2017. Magnolia fraseri (999-79*A), Fraser magnolia, with seemingly unreal brilliant magenta fruits hanging from the limbs of a specimen along Willow Path. Make a new year’s resolution to see this in September of 2018.
October 6, 2016. Rhus typhina (290-97*MASS-A), staghorn sumac, was in peak form on top of Peters Hill – a complete kaleidoscope of colors.
November 2, 2016. Cudrania tricuspidata (1354-73*C), a relative of osage orange and mulberry, with wonderful orange-red fruit. This specimen was collected in the wild in South Korea.
December 7, 2017. Pinus pungens (10706*A), table mountain pine, one of my favorites, always loaded with heavy tough cones (check out the umbos!). This 1921 accession has been gracing the conifer collection for almost a century. And it was this very tree that kicked off my first Post from the Collections back in the summer of 2015 (see Post here)
Best wishes for a very happy 2018, inspired by the beauty and subtlety of the natural (our organisms) and designed (Olmsted landscape) worlds here at the Arnold Arboretum.