January 2012

Happy New Year!

In this issue
  • Collections Researcher Puts Our Plants on the Map
  • City Facilitates Wall Repairs at the Arboretum
  • A Sneak Peak at Spring: Members' Plant Dividend
  • Take a Class: Pruning Techniques for Dormant Plants
  • Wellness Walk Features Seasonal Highlights
  • Geology Meets Botany: Soil Science for Gardeners
  • Plant Spotlight on Jasminum nudiflorum
  • Aviflora: Plants and the Birds that Love Them

  • City Facilitates Wall Repairs at the Arboretum
    Arboretum walls

    The Arnold Arboretum extends its appreciation to officials of the City of Boston and Boston's Parks and Recreation Department for their efforts in facilitating repairs to two Arboretum walls this fall. Heavy rainfalls over the past growing season contributed to partial collapses of the historic stone walls lining the Arboretum's perimeter on the Arborway and along Peters Hill. Through the initiative and cooperation of many individuals, efforts have resulted in beautifully restored walls in both locations. As part of its 1882 lease agreement with the City of Boston, Harvard University ceded maintenance of the Arboretum's walls, gates, roadways, and other infrastructure to the City in exchange for making the landscape freely accessible to the public. The wall restoration projects demonstrate the enduring value of this unique partnership.

    A Sneak Peak at Spring: Members' Plant Dividend
    Paeonia ludlowii

    Early each spring, the Arboretum's Spring Plant Dividend offers members the opportunity to receive a plant from our greenhouses as part of our mission to promote hardy trees, shrubs, and vines in New England. Join the Arboretum at the Sustaining level ($100) or above to qualify for this year's offering, Paeonia ludlowii, the Tibetan tree peony. Support the Arboretum by joining today, and enjoy the many benefits of membership all year long.

    Take a Class: Pruning Techniques for Dormant Plants
    Winter Pruning

    Though winter invites gardeners to plan and take stock of the landscape, it also can be a time of action to ensure healthier plants in future seasons. On January 28, Jen Kettell, a horticultural technologist at the Arboretum and an ISA-certified arborist, will explain the reasons to prune ornamental plants at this time of year and what needs to be considered when cutting back dormant trees, shrubs, and vines. She will identify plants that benefit from winter pruning, demonstrate techniques, and explain how plants heal from prudent cuts. Come to the Arboretum this month and learn to grow!

    January also marks the beginning of the 2012 Director's Lecture Series. Please note that the first talk by Ned Friedman ("The Evolution of Big") on January 9 is fully subscribed. Call 617.384.5277 to be added to the waiting list.

    Wellness Walk Features Seasonal Highlights
    Red osier dogwood

    Even at this time of year, a jaunt through the Arboretum piques the mind and senses. Enjoy a January walk in the landscape and explore seasonal characteristics of the living collection. Join Arboretum docent Rhoda Kubrick on Sunday, January 22 at 1:00pm for a brisk stroll to keep fit and keep connected with plants and nature at this time of year. Admire the bark and branch architecture of trees and encounter seasonal highlights along the route. This activity is free, but registration is requested. In case of inclement weather, call 617.384.5209.

    Geology Meets Botany: Soil Science for Gardeners

    Soil has been called "the bridge between life and the inanimate world." On January 23, join Janet McDonough, Senior Instructor of Biological Science Laboratory at Wellesley College, to gain a new perspective on this backbone of our landscape. Explore the characteristics of soils in New England from its origins in the glacial era to its influence on the types of plants in today's landscape. How is soil made? What are the components of a good soil, and how can gardeners gauge what amendments are needed? Register today for this program on the intersection of geology and biology, co-sponsored by the Wellesley College Friends of Horticulture.

    Plant Spotlight on Jasminum nudiflorum
    Jasminum nudiflorum

    Gardeners love plants with winter interest, and those unusual species that bloom during this season provide particular delight. This month seek out Jasminum nudiflorum, winter jasmine, a broad-spreading shrub native to China. Winter jasmine's bright yellow flowers may open as early as mid December, though its season of bloom may extend into March. Its green, first-year stems also stand out nicely in wintery landscapes, providing a particularly striking display when the graceful, slender stems trail over a wall. This aspect can be appreciated by visiting a 1981 accession of the plant on Chinese Path in the Explorers Garden, and a 2003 accession in the Leventritt Shrub and Vine Garden.

    Aviflora: Plants and the Birds that Love Them
    Yellow warbler

    The quantity and diversity of trees and shrubs in our area provide shelter and sustenance to a wide assortment of bird species throughout the year. Aviflora: Plants and the Birds that Love Them presents images by four local bird photographers that capture both floral and avian organisms in tandem. Featuring works by Ted Bradford, Eduardo del Solar, Brooks Matthewson, and Anne Haggerty, the exhibition opens in the Hunnewell Building on January 14 and runs through March 11. By giving a measure of parity to both plants and birds, these images invite the viewer to consider the vital interactions between all living things.

    All images from the Arnold Arboretum Archives except exhibition image (Yellow Warbler) courtesy of Brooks Matthewson.

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    Collections Researcher Puts Our Plants on the Map
    Collection Researcher

    Exploring the Arnold Arboretum's extensive collection of woody plants has acquired an exciting new dimension. On December 1, staff launched Collection Researcher, an innovative application that provides unique online access to the nearly 15,000 documented plants in the Arboretum landscape. Available on the Arboretum website, Collection Researcher combines the tools of cutting-edge GIS (geographical information system) technology with the Arboretum's extensive documentation on its plant collections. Using high definition, digital maps of the landscape and providing access to important global resources for plant information, Collection Researcher represents a giant leap forward in promoting the enjoyment, study, and understanding of the collections by researchers and the visiting public alike.

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