Check out the Arboretum’s YouTube Channel or view a selection of our videos below.
Celebrating a Sesquicentennial: The Founding of the Arnold Arboretum
The Arnold Arboretum was founded on Friday, March 29, 1872. Exactly 150 years later, Lisa Pearson, Head of the Arboretum Library and Archives, gave a special sesquicentennial lecture. Pearson discussed the earliest benefactors of the Arboretum, the events surrounding the founding of the institution, and the busy first two decades during which the infrastructure and living collections were installed on the grounds.
Olmsted and Yosemite: Civil War, Abolition, and the National Park Idea
Just in time for the Arboretum’s sesquicentennial and the bicentennial of the birth of pioneering landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, authors Rolf Diamant and Ethan Carr offered a new interpretation of how the American park—urban and national—came to figure so prominently in our cultural identity, and why this more complex and inclusive story deserves to be told. Presented in collaboration with Friends of Fairsted, the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, and the Library of American Landscape History.
Wild Collection and Propagation of Rare and Endangered Plants
Arnold Arboretum Plant Propagator Sean Halloran explores how ex-situ plant conservation, coordinated plant collection efforts, and plant propagation play vital roles in preserving biodiversity and slowing the damaging effects of climate change.
A Season of Lilacs
Lilacs come in a wide range of color, size, flower form, and leaf. Arnold Arboretum docent Chris McArdle takes viewers on a free, virtual tour of many of these varieties, by way of images from the actual plants in our landscape. From her long years of experience in the lilac collection, she introduces many fascinating histories, anecdotes, as well as the people instrumental in bringing us these much-anticipated May bloomers. From their 17th-century beginning in North America, up to some fabulous present-day cultivars, you will experience the breadth of our Arboretum lilac season.
A Way In: The Art and Science of Climate Change
A Way In: The Art and Science of Climate Change brings together artist Ginny Zanger and researcher Cat Chamberlain as they explore connections between art and science today, and how, as combined disciplines, they can help us comprehend, visualize, and respond to climate change in new ways. Through Zanger’s artwork and Chamberlain’s presentation of her research in phenology, using Zanger’s art, you will appreciate the opportunity for another Way In to understanding Climate Change. Recorded on March 25, 2021.
Every Pecan Tree: Trees, Meaning, and Memory in Enslaved People’s Lives
Professor Tiya Miles takes up the pecan tree as inspiration for exploring the meaning of trees in the lives of enslaved African Americans. Using a family heirloom passed down by Black women, as well as slave narratives, oral histories, and missionary records, her presentation underscores the importance of trees in the Black experience of captivity and resistance, ultimately revealing the centrality of the natural world to Black, and indeed, human, survival. Recorded on March 8, 2021, this lecture is the last in the Arnold Arboretum’s 2021 Director’s Lecture Series.
The Council of Pecans
Drawing upon an old family story of how the pecans fed her Potawatomi ancestors during the desperate times of poverty in Indian Territory, Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer addresses the ecological and cultural losses of the era of Removal. From a cultural perspective that understood trees as sustainers and teachers, she imagines the lessons that the mast fruiting behavior of Pecans hold for people facing contemporary perils of climate change and social upheaval. Recorded on March 1, 2021, this is the second lecture in the Arnold Arboretum’s 2021 Director’s Lecture Series.
The Pecan: A History of America’s Favorite Nut
The pecan tree went from being primarily wild to primarily domesticated in an astonishingly quick period of time–a matter of decades. In this lecture, James McWilliams explores the intricacies of this process while challenging us to think more critically about what we mean by ideas such as “natural,” “artificial,” and “authentic,” all of which are central to understanding the food we produce and consume. Recorded on February 22, 2021, this lecture was the first of three in the Arnold Arboretum’s 2021 Director’s Lecture Series.
Racial Equity in Urban Climate Action
Cities are rethinking their approach to climate action by placing racial justice at the forefront. Joan Fitzgerald, Professor of Urban Planning and Policy at Northeastern University, will draw from experiences with Providence, Austin, and Oakland in creating participatory planning processes and new priorities for a just transition to a carbon-free society. Recorded on January 28, 2021.
Tree Mob™: New Year, New Nest
Walk through the Arnold Arboretum in January and you may hear a mating pair of great horned owls (Bubo virginianus) calling to one another as they prepare for nesting season. Will they use last year’s nest? Find a nook in a dead tree? Or repurpose a red-tailed hawk nest? Gardener Brendan Keegan presents on the nesting habits of great horned owls as well as provides best practices for ethically observing these seldom seen raptors at the Arnold Arboretum or elsewhere. Recorded on Thursday, November 5, 2020.
Observations On Urban Nature
Peter Del Tredici, Senior Research Scientist Emeritus at the Arnold Arboretum, and Rosetta Elkin, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at McGill University, converse about the nature of urban environments that humans intentionally and unintentionally create as we inhabit more and more of the planet. This event was presented by the Arnold Arboretum and Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens and recorded on December 14, 2020.
Jewel in the Emerald Necklace: The Arnold Arboretum
On October 28, 2020, Historic New England invited Lisa Pearson, head of the Arnold Arboretum’s Library and Archives, to discuss one of the best preserved of Frederick Law Olmsted’s landscapes. Learn about the founding of the Arnold Arboretum and its twin roles as an Olmstedian public park and research institution. This virtual event was presented as part of Historic New England and the Victorian Society in America’s Twilight Talks series.
The Nature of Shakespeare
Marking the third collaboration between Actors’ Shakespeare Project and the Arnold Arboretum, The Nature of Shakespeare emerges as two virtual performance events that underscore the timeless connections between humans and their environment. Sonnets and scenes from the works of Shakespeare—filmed in seven locations across the Arboretum—meld with stories about Arboretum plants, landscapes, and history. The Nature of Shakespeare was made possible with generous support from Peter and Leslie Ciampi.
Tree Mob™: Storm Damage
On October 7, 2020, arcs, or bow echoes, of high winds and thunderstorms sped across the Northeast. Wind gusts, low humidity, and cooler temperatures combined to create a hybrid storm event that rampaged across New York, western Massachusetts, and eastward into southern New England. While some areas sustained little damage, the Arnold Arboretum experienced one of its worst storms in recent decades. Staff members Rachel Brinkman and John DelRosso address the impact of such a storm on our long-lived collection of research specimens. Recorded on Thursday, November 5, 2020.
Conversation: COVID-19’s Effect on Public Gardens and Arboreta
COVID-19 hit public gardens and arboreta in a variety of ways. Many institutions had to shut down entirely. Most retained skeleton crews onsite to maintain plants, though no visitors would be able to appreciate them. Others, like the Arnold Arboretum, kept their landscapes open with limited staffing, but could provide no facilities or visitor support services. Join Jonathan Damery, editor of Arnoldia, for a national dialogue with administrative and horticultural employees of public gardens about how garden work transpired from early spring through summer 2020, and how they imagine COVID-19 will impact their work as they shift into the fall and winter seasons. Recorded on September 16, 2020.
Tree Mob™: Using Etiolation to Improve Rooting
The high conservation value of some of the Arnold Arboretum’s accessions call for extraordinary measures to be taken when a valuable accession is in poor health. Etiolation, a process of shading developing plant stems, developed by Dr. Nina Bassuk of Cornell University and Dr. Brian Maynard of University of Rhode Island, can increase the success of rooting cuttings. Christine Ventura explains this process as it is being trialed on Arnold Arboretum accessions. Recorded on August 19, 2020.
“Painting Edo” at the Arnold Arboretum
“Painting Edo” at the Arnold Arboretum is a collaboration between the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University and the Harvard Art Museums, inspired by the exhibition Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection. Observing artworks from the exhibition alongside the living collections of the Arnold Arboretum, we invite you to marvel at the remarkable accuracy with which artists of the Edo period (1615–1868) in Japan rendered their botanical subjects.
Tree Mob™: Turtle Monitoring with Zoo New England
Snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) are frequently seen in the Arnold Arboretum’s three small ponds by Arboretum staff and visitors alike. Yet common snapping turtles are relatively rare in the Boston Metro Area. Since snappers appear to have a stable population in our landscape, the Arboretum provides an ideal place for Zoo New England (ZNE) to better understand population dynamics of snapping turtles to enhance the study and conservation of this species across Boston. Join Matthew Kamm for this virtual Tree Mob to learn about this collaborative conservation effort. No waders needed. Recorded on August 11, 2020.
Tree Mob™: Beneficial Predators for Pest Management
Get the inside scoop on using beneficial insects to manage New England plant pests from Chris Copeland, Arnold Arboretum Greenhouse Horticultural Technologist. Chris thinks both creatively and ecologically in preventing and treating outbreaks of detrimental insects in all phases of the Arboretum’s plant production sequence. Recorded on August 7, 2020.
Urban Wilds at the Arnold Arboretum
Take a tour of two urban wilds at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, guided by Senior Research Scientist Emeritus, Peter Del Tredici. In this video, Dr. Del Tredici sheds light on the recent history of two Arnold Arboretum landscapes—Weld Hill and Bussey Brook Meadow—which are managed as urban wilds, while sharing his insightful perspective on an ecology that is inclusive of humans and human activity.
Tree Mob™: Do Bats Abound?
Rachel Bricklin, PhD, Biologist, and Brendan Keegan, Arnold Arboretum Horticulturist, team up to reveal life in the night skies above the Arnold Arboretum. Rachel will introduce us to New England’s bats, the challenges they face, and the role they play in the ecosystem. Brendan will then share the sounds of bat species he’s discovered in the Arboretum using an Echo Meter and discuss recent changes in landscape management that the Arnold Arboretum has implemented in order to support its bat populations. Recorded on July 20, 2020.
Tree Mob™: Catering to Pollinators
Pollinators bring our landscape to life and are some of the Arnold Arboretum’s hardest working residents. Colin McCallum-Cook, Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Technologist, discusses how you can make your home garden, yard, stoop, or deck more friendly to these industrious insects by catering to their needs. Recorded on June 28, 2020.
Tree Mob™: Growing Plants from Softwood Cuttings
Join Arnold Arboretum Manager of Plant Production Tiffany Enzenbacher for a long-distance Tree Mob about propagating woody plants from summer cuttings. Viewers will tour the Dana Greenhouse cutting propagation facility, be taught techniques of how to collect, stick, and successfully root cuttings, and learn how to apply these practices at home. Recorded on June 17, 2020.
Tree Mob™: The Benefit of Living Mulches
Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Technologist, Jeffrey Scott Philips, will speak from the Arboretum landscape about the benefits of using live plants as mulch. Scott has been working to reduce the amount of wood chip mulch used in the Bradley Rosaceous Collection at the Arnold Arboretum, replacing open bed areas with perennials. Living mulch improves soil profile; attracts wildlife, pollinators, and beneficial insects; and beats out pesky weeds. Recorded on June 12, 2020.
Tree Mob™: Zooming in on Tree Swallows
This video is about tree swallows at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, Massachusetts and was recorded on May 20, 2020. Karla Noboa, a NestWatch volunteer and founder of the Feminist Bird Club, Boston Chapter, shares her experiences in monitoring nesting boxes over the course of the breeding season. She speaks about tree swallows and chickadees, their preferred habitats, and diets.
Flower Power: How Pollinators Get What They Want from Plants
In honor of Pollinator Week at the Arnold Arboretum, Dr. Robin Hopkins, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences, reveals various strategies flowers use to manipulate pollinators to do their bidding. Through a series of flower dissections, Dr. Hopkins guides us to understand flower morphology, and how different floral traits—known as pollinator syndromes—can help predict the type of pollinator that will aid that flower to set seed. Witness the results of millions of years of co-evolution between plants and pollinators, and use that knowledge to harness flower power in your home gardens!
Silk Moths in the Arnold Arboretum
Arnold Arboretum volunteer Bob Mayer has been raising and breeding four species of silk moths on site at the Arnold Arboretum to discover if any of the four species native to Eastern Massachusetts—cecropia, polyphemus, promethea and luna moths—can be found at the Arnold Arboretum.
Tree Mob™: Zooming in on Spruce Cones
William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University and Arnold Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, speaks about coning and reproduction in spruce trees. This Tree Mob™ was recorded in the Arnold Arboretum’s conifer collection and was offered virtually to audiences via Zoom Meeting on May 8, 2020.
Welcome back, Bonsai!
Join Steve Schneider, the Director of Operations and Public Programs, for the first installment in a series of behind the scenes videos focused on the Arnold Arboretum’s Bonsai & Penjing Collection. In this video, learn about the cold storage facilities, where the dwarfed plants spend their quiet winter months. Then watch as one of the largest specimens, a compact hinoki cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Chabo-hiba’ is welcomed into the pavilion for the growing season.
Check back for additional videos focusing on repotting and highlights on some of the beautiful specimens.
Among the oldest surviving bonsai in America, the Bonsai & Penjing Collection is a beloved treasure of the Arnold Arboretum and Boston. While the plants that currently make up the Collection are not the oldest dwarfed plants in the United States, they have been under cultivation longer than any other examples currently growing in North America—with the exception of three plants at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden that were imported in 1911.
In order to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines (Spring 2020), the Bonsai & Penjing Pavilion is closed to the public. Check the Arboretum website for updates on the reopening of the pavilion, or call 617.524.1718.
Arboretum Director Ned Friedman Addresses the International Garden Symposium 2020
Director William (Ned) Friedman presented a talk at the International Garden Symposium 2020 about the Arnold Arboretum and its dual mission in serving science and the public. Sponsored by the Korean National Arboretum, this year’s symposium focused on the role gardens play in urban environments with the theme “Gardens, the future of cities.” Professor Friedman’s talk explores the Arboretum both as a public park and as a tree museum and living laboratory, one designed and legally established as a resource for all.