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May 2011


In this issue
  • Spring Planting Boosts Arboretum Collections
  • A Rite of Spring: Lilac Sunday Festivities on May 8
  • Become a Member and Enjoy a Lilac of Your Own
  • Follow Our Scientists Exploring Indonesia's Forests
  • Trees, Bees, and Gardening Highlighted in Classes
  • May Tours: Crabapples, Conservation, and Collecting
  • Plant Spotlight on Malus 'Blanche Ames'
  • The New Botanicals: Lilac Images by Vinette Varvaro

  • A Rite of Spring: Lilac Sunday Festivities on May 8
    2011 Lilac Sunday logo

    The blossoms of the Arboretum's famed collection of lilacs, numbering some 377 plants of 181 different kinds, provide a spectacular array of color and scent. Join us on May 8 for Lilac Sunday, the Arboretum's annual celebration of this floral champion. From 10am to 4pm, enjoy tours of the lilacs, music, dance performances, picnicking (allowed on this special day only), and family activities in the landscape. Lilac Sunday t-shirts, totebags, hats, and posters sporting this year's logo (shown here) will be available for purchase. Street parking along the Arboretum perimeter is limited, so visitors are encouraged to take public transportation.

    Become a Member and Enjoy a Lilac of Your Own
    Syringa vulgaris 'Yankee Doodle'

    The Arnold Arboretum relies on public support to sustain its remarkable landscape and collections. Fully participate in our mission by becoming a member on Lilac Sunday and receive a lilac as our thanks. This year's new member lilac, Syringa vulgaris 'Yankee Doodle', is a compact, upright variety which bears a profusion of fragrant, dark purple flowers. Join the Friends of the Arnold Arboretum and take home a lilac of your own—or to share with Mom this Mother's Day!

    Follow Our Scientists Exploring Indonesia's Forests
    Cam Webb

    Embark on a virtual expedition with Arnold Arboretum Senior Research Scientist Cam Webb as he and his colleagues explore Indonesia's threatened tropical forests. As part of a three-year study funded by the National Science Foundation, Arboretum scientists and their Indonesian collaborators will examine hundreds of species of plants and their habitats to expand our understanding of forest composition, evolution, and the effects of global change. Check out Cam's blog to encounter fascinating organisms, witness the forces of nature, and meet the people dedicated to understanding and protecting these irreplaceable ecosystems.

    Trees, Bees, and Gardening Highlighted in Classes
    Founding Gardeners talk

    Branch out this May at the Arnold Arboretum. Demystify the secret lives of honey bees with Wellesley College biologist Heather Mattila on May 10. On May 12, view The Olmsted Legacy: America's Urban Parks, a film about the Arboretum's landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, and participate in a post-screening discussion. Join Emily Hamilton for a series of Sunday walk-and-talks focusing on trees and shrubs and their uses in designed landscapes, starting May 15. And on May 26, attend a free presentation at the Massachusetts Historical Society exploring the gardening zeal of America's founding patriots.

    May Tours: Crabapples, Conservation, and Collecting
    NACPEC 2010 China Expedition

    Dig deeper into the work of the Arboretum and explore its rich collections and beautiful landscape on a theme tour. On May 10, join Horticultural Apprentice Miles Sax for a look at his work to restore the Arboretum's Malus (apple and crabapple) collection on Peters Hill. Abby Hird of Botanic Gardens Conservation International celebrates International Plant Conservation Day (May 18) by highlighting some of the plants the Arboretum collects to aid conservation and restoration efforts. On May 21, join Curator of Living Collections Michael Dosmann for a look at how plants are collected on modern-day expeditions, and learn about the Arboretum's current and future collecting strategies.

    Plant Spotlight on Malus 'Blanche Ames'
    Malus 'Blanche Ames'

    Lilacs may get their own celebration, but the Arboretum's rich collection of flowering crabapples (Malus spp.) offers visitors another visual feast in May. One of the most spectacular varieties is M. 'Blanche Ames', selected in 1939 by Dr. Karl Sax and named for the noted botanical illustrator. Framed by slightly weeping, purplish-brown limbs, the tree's crimson buds open in mid May to reveal white, semi-double flowers with a pink blush and sweet fragrance. From afar, the floral effect gives the tree a billowy appearance; up close, the rose-like petals of each flower surround a multitude of golden stamens. Visit specimens of this plant near the Bradley Roseaceous Collection and in the crabapple collection on Peters Hill.

    The New Botanicals: Lilac Images by Vinette Varvaro
    Miss Canada lilac by Vinette Varvaro

    With the opening of her exhibition of flower images on April 30, Vinette Varvaro provides a modern twist on age-old botanical illustration. Varvaro begins with flowers freshly picked from the garden, composes them artfully, and captures them in highly detailed, larger-than-life prints. The show includes commentary about the lilacs featured in the show by the Arboretum's head propagator and lilac expert, Jack Alexander. Join the artist for an opening reception on May 4 and an artist talk on May 18.

    All images from the Arnold Arboretum Archives except Founding Gardeners book cover courtesy of the author, Syringa vulgaris 'Yankee Doodle' photograph courtesy of Pat Breen of Oregon State University, and New Botanicals exhibition photo courtesy of the artist.

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    Spring Planting Boosts Arboretum Collections
    2011 Spring Planting

    Spring planting season has arrived, and Arboretum horticulturists have begun adding a multitude of new trees, shrubs, and vines to the living collection. Among the "class of 2011" are a number of plants collected by staff in the Adirondack Mountains in 2008, including specimens of Acer spicatum (mountain maple), Alnus incana ssp. rugosa (speckled alder), and two species of birch: Betula papyifera (white birch) and B. populifolia (gray birch).

    The Arboretum also enhanced several of its "national collections" of plants grown in association with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including maple (A. cissifolium and A. rufinerve from Japan), stewartia (Stewartia rostrata from China and S. ovata from the state of Georgia), beech (Fagus orientalis from the republic of Georgia), and lilac (Syringa pekinensis from China). Later this spring and early summer, look for planting to continue in recently renovated areas of the Bradley Rosaceous Collection. On your next Arboretum visit, look for new plants identified by crimson stakes.

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