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March 2012


In this issue
  • Partnership Flourishes for Science Education
  • March Director's Lectures Feature Plant Art, Microbes
  • Tibetan Tree Peony is 2012 Member Dividend
  • Learn to Grow: Compact Orchard and Bonsai
  • Talks Explore Conifer Diversity and Tea Trade
  • Tree Rings: Warren Mather Ceramics Exhibition
  • The Rise and Fall of America's City Elms at HMNH
  • Plant Spotlight on Alnus maximowiczii

  • March Director's Lectures Feature Plant Art, Microbes
    Director's Lecture Series

    The 2012 Director's Lecture Series concludes this month with talks that illuminate recent studies by renowned scholars. On Monday, March 5 at 7:00pm, Purdue University's Jules Janick will demonstrate how works of art throughout history have documented our relationship with plants and horticulture. On Monday, March 19 at 7:00pm, Noah Fierer of the University of Colorado at Boulder will discuss the human body's microbial diversity and the effects these organisms may have on health. Both talks are free but you must register in advance as space is limited.

    Tibetan Tree Peony is 2012 Member Dividend
    Paeonia ludlowii

    Each spring, the Arnold Arboretum offers members at the Sustaining level ($100) and above the opportunity to receive and grow a woody plant from our greenhouses. This year's plant dividend, Paeonia ludlowii, the Tibetan tree peony, is a handsome, deciduous shrub that grows three to five feet tall in cultivation. Its ornamental features include papery-barked branches, semi-double yellow flowers, and bright green leaves that turn yellow in fall. 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 or can be picked up at the Arboretum on Saturday, March 31.

    Learn to Grow: Compact Orchard and Bonsai

    This month, take a class with the Arnold Arboretum and learn to grow. On Saturday, March 17, Arboretum Plant Propagator Jack Alexander shares techniques for starting various types of plants from seed, offering time-tested germination tips for beginners. On Monday, March 19 at the Wellesley College Science Center, Pauline Muth presents the history, art, and horticulture of bonsai. And on Saturday, March 24, learn how to plan and create a compact orchard on your property by attending a workshop at the Wakefield Estate in Milton. Take some time to refresh your plant knowledge...spring is in the air!

    Talks Explore Conifer Diversity and Tea Trade
    Zsolt Debreczy

    Join us for two talks at the Weld Hill Research Building this March to expand your appreciation of plant diversity. On Friday, March 2 at 5:30pm, dendrologist Zsolt Debreczy will characterize his 30-year quest to seek and document all the conifers in the world's temperate zones. His presentation will include some of the more than 340,000 photographs captured for the project, representing thousands of taxa and including several conifers that are new to science. On Monday, March 26 at 7:00pm, join ethnobotanist Selena Ahmed for a discussion of the origins, culture, and diversity of tea derived from the leaves of Camillia japonica. Learn about the journey of tea from ancient to contemporary times, enjoy beautiful photographs of southwest China, and sample a variety of traditional brews. Both talks are free, but advance registration is requested.

    Tree Rings: Warren Mather Ceramics Exhibition
    Tree Rings

    Artist Warren Mather, a member of the faculty at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, creates circular panoramas that present simultaneous front and back views. In Tree Rings, an exhibit opening Saturday, March 17 in the Hunnewell Building Lecture Hall, he creates inverse panoramas of the bark of various trees. These images are formed into a ring and transferred to silk-screens, printed in ceramic pigments on clay, then fired and glazed. Save the date for an artist talk for this exhibition on Thursday, April 12 at 6:30pm.

    The Rise and Fall of America's City Elms at HMNH
    New Haven Elms

    At the dawn of the last century, the American elm (Ulmus americana) lined streets and shaded town commons throughout much of the country. The devastation wrought by Dutch elm disease has forever changed our relationship with this former mainstay of the American landscape. Thomas J. Campanella, Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Design at the University of North Carolina, will explore the culture and history of America's elms at a lecture on Thursday, March 8 at 6:00pm at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. This talk is free and open to the public, and a reception will follow. Free parking is available in the 52 Oxford Street garage.

    Plant Spotlight on Alnus maximowiczii
    Alnus maximowiczii

    Famed Arboretum plant explorer E. H. Wilson demonstrated a fondness for the alders (Alnus spp.), and A. maximowiczii is among the hardy species of the genus that he collected in Asia at the dawn of the last century. Native to Japan and Russia's Sakhalin Island, A. maximowiczii grows as a deciduous shrub that can reach 15 to 25 feet in height and spread in the wild. Serrated leaves emerge emerald green and darken to a rich blue-green as the season progresses. In early spring before the leaves emerge, the plant flowers with staminate and pistillate catkins that are quite showy; staminate catkins grow 3 to 4 inches and turn a golden yellow, while pistillate catkins are small and turn a deep cherry red. See examples of this fine adaptable plant in the meadow near the Arborway Gate.

    All images from the Arnold Arboretum Archives except mosaic courtesy of Jules Janick, exhibition image courtesy of Warren Mather, conifer expedition image courtesy of Zsolt Debreczy, and 1860 New Haven elm image courtesy of the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

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    Partnership Flourishes for Science Education
    Science Partnership

    With the help of educators from the Arnold Arboretum, science has taken root at the Boston Teachers Union School. The Arboretum's partnership with the Jamaica Plain charter school has flowered through science explorations for students in Kindergarten, first grade, and second grade classrooms. Arboretum educators facilitate lessons on plant and animal life while also nurturing a broad understanding of general science, sparking curiosity through observation and simple experiments. The curriculum engages the students through fun and creative activities while helping them to consider the natural world in new and compelling ways.

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