“[E]ach individual adding by his mere presence to the pleasure of all others, all helping to the greater happiness of each.”

So wrote Frederick Law Olmsted on the benefits of urban public parks in 1871, the year before America’s first public arboretum, the Arnold Arboretum, was founded. Never has this sentiment been truer than in 2020. Since the beginning of the pandemic, levels of visitation to the Arboretum have been historic.  

As I walked the grounds this year, I found myself drawn not only to the extraordinary plants of the Arnold Arboretum, but equally, to observing and deriving pleasure from fellow humans, part of a community of like-minded souls who deeply love the Arboretum. I have watched as families flocked with children in tow, couples walked hand in hand, and friends safely gathered (distanced and masked) to renew the lost sense of human contact. It has been magnificent. First sled rides after the snowstorm in mid-December, first bicycle rides on warm days, first dates, weddings, and memories conjured by a certain tree or spot on the grounds. It all happens in the Arnold Arboretum every day of the year.

So, here to end 2020, a few shots of landscape, plants, and people at the world’s most wonderful arboretum. 

Spring, autumn, and winter photos of the Arboretum by Ned Friedman
Spring in the oak collection on Bussey Hill, the view from Peters Hill in autumn, and sledding down the hillside next to the Hunnewell Building in winter. Ned Friedman