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November 2013


In this issue
  • Walking in Darwin's Footsteps
  • Midwest Collecting Trip Yields Native Plants
  • Share Membership Benefits with Family and Friends
  • Ensemble Evolution Blends Music and Nature
  • Classes Illuminate Evolution, Gardening, and Farming
  • Dispersal: Photographs by Anna Laurent
  • Guided Tour Season Wraps Up With Fall Walks
  • Plant Spotlight on Dawn Redwood

  • Midwest Collecting Trip Yields Native Plants

    Our 281-acre landscape displays plants collected from all corners of the temperate world for study and conservation. To expand and refine these collections, Curator of Living Collections Michael Dosmann led a plant collecting expedition in southern Illinois and Indiana. Among the 24 species selected to enhance the collections are native hickories (Carya spp.) and maples (Acer spp.), two of six genera held as national collections at the Arboretum. Other acquisitions include three new vine species for the Leventritt Garden, a native burning bush species (Euonymus atropurpureus), and the American snowbell (Styrax americana).

    Share Membership Benefits with Family and Friends
    Peters Hill

    Give the gift of an Arnold Arboretum membership and open the door to plants, science, and exploration. Spread some joy at the holidays by sharing a unique gift that also sustains the Arboretum as a beloved landscape, important research collection, and community resource for education. As an Arboretum member, your gift recipient will receive a year of benefits including free plant(s), subscriptions to Arboretum publications, invitations to special events, and discounts at participating nurseries and botanic gardens nationwide. Please respond by December 13 to ensure holiday delivery.

    Ensemble Evolution Blends Music and Nature

    The Arboretum welcomes international percussion group Ensemble Evolution as our first artists-in-residence, drawing creative connections between making music and experiencing the natural world. On November 8, the trio collaborates with the Boston Percussion Group to create a special Arboretum composition, a workshop open to public observation from 3-4pm. A full concert on November 9 features a multi-media presentation of "Sounds from the Treetops," pieces inspired by the iconic Treehotel in Sweden. The residency concludes with a family workshop on November 10 to make instruments and music with plants and found objects.

    Classes Illuminate Evolution, Gardening, and Farming

    Colorful foliage provides the backdrop for autumn learning. Find out how the theory of evolution by natural selection was discovered independently by one of Darwin's contemporaries, Alfred Russel Wallace, when Andrew Berry visits on November 7 for a talk marking the centennial of Wallace's death. On November 13, Thomas Mickey traces the beginnings of the garden industry and the popularization of the English garden. On November 18, John Huth ponders the lost art of wayfinding as our sense of direction becomes increasingly dependent on technology. And join Gary Paul Nabhan on November 20 to learn how many traditional farming strategies may help protect the food chain in the face of a changing climate.

    Dispersal: Photographs by Anna Laurent

    Explore the diversity of seed pods and seed dispersal methods in the Arboretum's new exhibition, Dispersal: Photographs by Anna Laurent. Individually, each of the 33 photographs in the exhibition is a close-up, fine art portrait of a unique plant specimen; as a series, the images represent a visual and scientific inquiry into plant reproduction and natural design. An associated exhibit in the Visitor Center features an array of seeds from the Arboretum grounds and herbarium, and visitors may also enjoy a self-guided tour of plants featured in the exhibition via our mobile mapping application, Arboretum Explorer.

    Guided Tour Season Wraps Up With Fall Walks
    American beech

    An autumn walk in the Arboretum will reward your visit with any number of sensational discoveries! Our final Saturday and Sunday guided tours of the season are offered this weekend, so come explore the beauty and wonder of Arboretum plants and enjoy topics of seasonal interest with a knowledgeable docent guide. Other free tour opportunities this month include two Family Adventure Hikes designed for kids (accompanied by a parent or guardian) on November 9 and 23, and a brisk stroll through the collections on November 10 with docent Rhoda Kubrick to help you Fall into Health.

    Plant Spotlight on Dawn Redwood

    As our logo tree, the dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) has literally come to symbolize the Arnold Arboretum and our historical mission to explore plant diversity. The Arboretum played a key role in the introduction and global distribution of this ancient species, known only by the fossil record when it was discovered growing in China in the 1940s. In autumn, the bright green, feathery foliage of this deciduous conifer turns reddish-brown before shedding, a sight best appreciated by visiting groves planted on Willow Path, Bussey Hill, and Peters Hill. Dawn Redwood is the Tree-of-the-Month in our Visitor Center; stop by for more information or a kids activity guide.

    All images from the Arnold Arboretum Archives except exhibition image (bladderpod, Isomeris arborea) courtesy of Anna Laurent, and book cover courtesy of Thomas Mickey.

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    Walking in Darwin's Footsteps

    The Arboretum's value as an affiliate of Harvard University and partner in its educational mission centers on direct engagement with our extensive and diverse collections of living plants. This focus on experiential learning characterizes much of our programming, from Tree Mobs for visitors and field study experiences for Boston schoolchildren to our Hunnewell internships for budding plant care professionals. Director William (Ned) Friedman champions this approach in his Harvard freshman seminar, Getting to Know Charles Darwin, which guides students through classroom recreations of many of the experiments the famed naturalist conducted to investigate evolution. Bringing the class to the landscape and labs of the Arboretum invites students to expand their curiosity, savor discovery, and connect directly with the course material. "You feel like you're in Darwin's shoes," said student Ioana Dobre. "He was looking at these plants through microscopes, and now here we are looking at the same things and trying to make the same sort of observations. We can feel how he would have felt."

    Read more in the Harvard Gazette
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