Visiting the Arnold Arboretum

Last week I visited Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum while I was in Boston. When I first arrived I talked with Kevin, a researcher at the arboretum who is studying hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA). My M.S. research involved HWA, so we spent some time talking about methods and analyses. He showed me some of the hemlocks he is working with and gave me a quick driving tour of the arboretum. We also looked at a hemlock specimen on the grounds that is thought to be a new species, which is currently being called Ulleung hemlock (as far as I know it does not have a scientific name yet). It was fun to talk about research and hemlocks again.

After our conversation I started walking through the arboretum. It contains 265 acres, with winding trails and large open plantings, so I spent many hours traipsing around. Very few plants were in bloom, so I had to imagine what many of the plants would look like in their peak flowering season and in the fall when their leaves changed color.

Hamamelis mollis (Chinese witch-hazel) at the Arnold Arboretum.

I saw some great Hamamelis and Clethra specimens–including Clethra acuminata, a plant I’ve been wanting to see.

In one garden there was a unique azalea. It was flowering when few other shrubs were in bloom, so there were many flying things around it. It looked like a deli counter at noon. I managed to isolate one patron in this picture:

A butterfly visits an azalea.

Clematis hexapetala (six petal clematis) surprised me, I did not realize there were any Clematis species that were not vines. It turns out there are several.

Clematis hexapetala at the Arnold Arboretum.

A weeping European larch caught my eye. It’s the plant equivalent of a Shih Tzu.

A weeping European larch.

When goldenrain trees are in bloom they are striking. Two goldenrain trees were in bloom at the Arnold Arboretum.

Goldenrain trees.

In the middle of the arboretum there stands a little hut; the hut is locked and alarmed. It contains the Lars Anderson bonsai collection, with specimens dating back into the 1700s. I took this picture up against the bars on one side, giving the illusion that I was inside the cage.

Part of the Larz Anderson bonsai collection.

I walked up Hemlock Hill, which was fun. I’ve read about Hemlock Hill, so being there and seeing the plants was great. Chinese hemlocks are being planted in some of the areas where eastern hemlocks have been devastated by HWA.

The path that leads to the top of Hemlock Hill.

The morning was hot and sunny. As the afternoon progressed I noted that clouds were rolling in. In the late afternoon the wind began to pick up, and I decided to head for my car. Soon after I arrived at my car the rain began to fall. I’m glad it only began in the late afternoon–once it started it continued for many hours.

I’d love to visit the Arnold Arboretum again in the future. I’m sure the lilac display must be nothing short of amazing in the spring.

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Filed under General, Horticulture

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