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February 2010


In this issue
  • Arboretum Publishes New Field-checking Manual
  • Spotlight on...Hamamelis vernalis
  • Take a Class: Landscaping with Native Plants
  • Chinese Plum Yew Offered as 2010 Member Dividend
  • Reception and Artist Talk for Summer in Winter Show
  • Connect People with Plants as an Arboretum Volunteer
  • Refresh Yourself with a Winter Wellness Walk

  • Spotlight on...Hamamelis vernalis

    On sunny days in January and February, the vernal witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) unfurls its pungently fragrant, yellow to orange-red flowers, offering one of the first signs of the impending spring. Native from Missouri to Louisiana and Oklahoma, H. vernalis is a medium to large shrub that becomes rounded and spreading with age. Though it grows best in full sun and moist soil, its tolerance of a wide range of conditions makes it an excellent choice for challenging sites. The plant was originally described by founding director Charles Sprague Sargent in 1908. Impressive specimens dating back to this year still thrive in the living collection, and can be admired near the Hunnewell Building and on Meadow Road close to Rehder Pond.

    Take a Class: Landscaping with Native Plants

    Some estimate that nearly a quarter of North America's native species are threatened with extinction. While the movement to plant natives is galvanizing around the country, many gardeners have the mistaken impression that native plants are necessarily hardier or easier to maintain than other nursery stock. In a three-session class beginning on February 8, garden designer Michael Lance will help you learn which natives would be most suitable in your own landscape. He'll emphasize edible and medicinal plants, trees and shrubs with outstanding ornamental qualities, and perennials resilient enough to thrive in difficult urban and suburban conditions. The class will also highlight organic gardening techniques and ways to develop beneficial garden habitats.

    Members of the Arnold Arboretum may register for Arboretum classes at a discount. Join today and enjoy this and other attractive membership benefits.

    Chinese Plum Yew Offered as 2010 Member Dividend

    As part of its mission to promote woody plants hardy in New England, the Arnold Arboretum offers members at the Sustaining level ($100) and above the opportunity to receive and grow a woody plant from our greenhouse. This year's spring plant dividend, Cephalotaxus sinensis, is an evergreen shrub originally described in 1914 by renowned Arboretum plantsmen E. H. Wilson and Alfred Rehder. A nice plant for hedges, C. sinensis is deer resistant and tolerates sun, shade, and drought. Qualifying members should look for a plant dividend letter in March, with additional information and a plant request form. Plants are shipped in early April, and members will have an opportunity to pick up their plant at our Members' Tour Day event on Saturday, May 1.

    Reception and Artist Talk for Summer in Winter Show

    Enjoy the perfect antidote to the drab, cold days of February. View the exhibition, Summer in Winter: Paintings by Anthony Apesos, in the Hunnewell Building Lecture Hall through March 3. Featuring a diverse array of views of the Arboretum at the height of its verdant glory, the paintings suggest the romantic and lyrical qualities of such landscape artists as George Inness and John Constable. Join the artist for a reception on Saturday, February 20 from 1:00 to 3:00pm, or attend an artist talk on Thursday, February 25 at 6:30pm. The exhibition and both events are free and open to the public.

    Connect People with Plants as an Arboretum Volunteer
    Field Studies Guide

    Spring training is coming soon, both for the Boston Red Sox and for Arboretum volunteers! This winter, the Arboretum offers training sessions for prospective Arboretum docents and children's education guides. Training for docents begins March 31, and participants will learn how to lead tours of the Arboretum landscape and collections for adults. Starting April 1, prospective guides for the children's education program will train to present active learning programs for upper elementary school students. Apply today!

    Refresh Yourself with a Winter Wellness Walk
    Hunnewell Building

    The Arboretum's guided-tour season officially begins in April, but you can get a head start this month with a Winter Wellness Walk. Join us at 1:00pm on February 21 for a pleasant stroll through the winter landscape and see striking examples of tree architecture, observe wildlife, and catch a glimpse or two of early indicators of spring. The walk will conclude in the Visitor Center with hot tea and cocoa.

    All images from the Arnold Arboretum Archives except Apesos exhibition image courtesy of the artist and native plants image by Justin Free.

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    Arboretum Publishes New Field-checking Manual

    All museums need to keep track of their objects, but the collections at arboreta and botanical gardens require particularly thoughtful and robust monitoring. As living things, the specimens on display can decline in health, go missing, or alter their location as they grow and expand. In order to improve the way staff access, identify, map, and label the plants at the Arnold Arboretum, the curatorial team produced a new Plant Inventory Operations Manual (PIOM) this winter.

    After a year of development, the new manual sets an even higher standard for field checking and plant documentation at the institution renowned for pioneering such practices. Together with the Arboretum's Landscape Management Plan, the PIOM enhances the way the horticultural staff collaborates to present a landscape and living collection of outstanding quality for visitors, students, and scientists.

    Find out more about curation at the Arboretum and download the PIOM...
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