Shana Byrd, Director of Land Conservation
As the seasons change, so does the scenery across the landscape. This is especially true of The Arboretum, which is continually enhanced and cared for to conserve nature and add enjoyment for our visitors. Over the years the Arboretum has grown and now encompasses nearly 2,000 acres of plant collections, gardens, forests, meadows and wetlands. This living museum highlights trees and the habitats they are a part of. Taken together, these views are meant to inspire an appreciation for the beauty and value of our natural world. Improving landscapes often means removing undesirable weeds that inevitably take root and replacing them with more valuable native planting and specimen collections showcasing the beauty and function of plants. This is particularly important as the Arboretum expands. Last year, an adjacent working landscape formerly known as the Swartz farm, became a part of the Arboretum. As part of this process, an enhancement plan was initiated, to incorporate these lands into the larger vision of plant collections and species conservation.
On a sunny afternoon this past December, staff began the process of removing the old fence line that formerly separated the properties. Located on the southern loop of the auto tour, this field hugs the noble row of Kentucky coffee trees. What was once a visual barrier, harboring woody weeds, is now becoming an open view of the farm field and rolling hills in the backdrop. This parcel is now a feature of various approaches to more sustainable agriculture. The field was planted with a conservation cover of prairie along its border, serving as a nectar resource for insects pollinating the growing crops and helping to hold soil in place. The waterways have been seeded with a diverse mix of native flowers and grasses with special adaptations to soak up excess rainwater. Farmers who partner with the Arboretum have committed to using soil and water conservation techniques such as these, in a joint effort to take care of our natural resources. Including the new property and removing the old fence barriers is symbolic of the Arboretum’s goal to bring people closer to the land and our dependence on the living landscape. Visitors driving along the auto tour can now expect to see newly opened vistas and in the future, expanded collections of plants, walking paths and even improved road access to the new property.
Along with the New Year, come new possibilities and visions for the potential our natural landscapes hold. As we continue to be stewards of this land, we are inspired by the passion of our supporters to help us achieve our mission of growing the appreciation for trees, our history and the world around us. During your next visit…who knows what new and exciting enhancements you’ll see next…!