“Each 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

From “free” to “friend”…

Established in 1911 as the Bulletin of Popular Information, Arnoldia has long been a definitive forum for conversations about temperate woody plants and their landscapes. In 2022, we rolled out a new vision for the magazine as a vigorous forum for tales of plant exploration, behind-the-scenes glimpses of botanical research, and deep dives into the history of gardens, landscapes, and science. The new Arnoldia includes poetry, visual art, and literary essays, following the human imagination wherever it entangles with trees.

It takes resources to gather and nurture these new voices, and we depend on the support of our member-subscribers to make it possible. But membership means more: by becoming a member of the Arnold Arboretum, you help to keep our collection vibrant and our research and educational mission active. Through the pages of Arnoldia, you can take part in the life of this free-to-all landscape whether you live next door or an ocean away.

For more tree-entangled art, science, and writing, subscribe to Arnoldia by becoming a member of the Arnold Arboretum.