As autumn begins to set in, it is getting harder and harder to find woody plants in flower at the Arnold Arboretum. And, humans aren’t the only ones to lament the diminution of flowering in September—insects do too! Under the visionary leadership of Andrew Gapinski, Manager of Horticulture, the Arboretum has been working to create new opportunities to promote insect (and bird) biodiversity on the grounds. And right now, the most colorful scene in the Arnold Arboretum can be found in Kent Field at the base of the conifer collection.

The views across Kent Field into the conifer collection (from Hemlock Hill Road) are always among the most dramatic in the entire Arboretum landscape: the blues and various shades of green in the spruces, firs, and pines, along with myriad tree architectural forms on display side by side. Add into the foreground thousands of Jerusalem artichoke plants (Helianthus tuberosus) in full flower (upper image), along with swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata), common boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), clustered mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum; break leaf, inhale deeply), great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica; lower right), purple stem aster (Symphyotrichum puniceum; lower left, with a magnificent syrphid fly rendering pollinator services), and more—and you really have to see this stunning collection of native perennial wildflowers for yourself.

Conifer collection at the Arboretum and perennial flowers by Ned Friedman

If you need a map to find Hemlock Hill Road, click here. Park along Bussey Street and enter through the Bussey Street Gate, or take a nice longer walk from anywhere else in the Arboretum.