Volunteer Highlight-Vikki Brauer

for volunteering!

At the Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, volunteers are a necessary part of our operation. Thanks to the volunteers who do weeding, watering, welcome center greeting and all kinds of other odd jobs we provide a welcoming atmosphere that shares the beauty of nature with those in our communities. We want to thank our volunteers for the work they do. This month’s volunteer is Vikki Brauer.

Vikki lives in Hudson and works as one of our Welcome Center Greeters. She is married and has three children and three step-children, all grown up, 5 grandkids, and 14 step-grandkids. Vikki used to work as a quality engineer and manager before she retired. Vikki started volunteering at the Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Gardens so that she would have something to do in retirement. She enjoys working in the Welcome Center because of the variety. Some days are quiet and peaceful while others are busy and hectic.

Next time you stop by the Arboretum say hello to Vikki!

Hobbits at the Arboretum

On Friday, June 16th Hobbits visited the Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Gardens. Hobbits, a popular character from the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien, are small mythical creatures who enjoy living life to the fullest. To celebrate, the children’s garden committee held a Hobbit Hole open house and had great success! We had over 150 people in attendance and were so excited to share the magic of the Shire in our little garden.

Hobbit Hole Complete.jpg

The completed Hobbit Hole in the Children’s Garden

Many visitors were able to see the final project but we thought it appropriate to show the progress that leads to such an event. The journey from paper to party began during our 2016 season. Last year the Arboretum purchased a Hobbit Hole playhouse kit and spent the season building, painting, and making the Hobbit Hole come to life. The finishing touches of landscaping were completed in early June. Read more below to learn how the Hobbit House came to be. Continue reading

On the Hunt for New Trees-Paul Kammerdiner

Each year at the Arboretum we try to plant new trees to enhance our great collection, but you may wonder how we decide what to add. There is a logical answer and there’s a fun answer. With that, I’ll explain the fun way first.

A couple of years ago our Executive Director and I took a research road trip to Madison, Wisconsin to visit Olbrich Gardens. It’s a good idea to see what other similar facilities look like and to get ideas for our garden. While checking out the trees I saw the Seven Son Flower Tree for the first time. It’s a beautiful ornamental with the added interest of unusual bark. Since then I’ve had this unique tree in the back of my mind not only for my yard but as a great addition to the Arboretum.

Continue reading

Let’s Talk Trees: The Bald Cypress

Iowa City Landscaping Bald CyprusIn Iowa, we have a large variety of trees, native and non-native. One such non-native species is the Bald Cyprus tree which can grow to be 50 feet tall. It is a popular ornamental tree, grown for its light feathery foliage. The spring foliage is a bright yellow-green becoming sage green in summer. It is a deciduous tree and ends the season with rich, russet-brown leaves which fall attached to 2-3 inch long shoots. Most members of its family Cupressaceae do not lose leaves, hence the name “Bald” Cypress for this variety.

Continue reading

Jack in the Pulpit

When I was a child, my favorite spring activity was to hunt for wildflowers in the timbered hills of my grandparents’ small farm in Iowa County, north of Marengo.  My memory’s eye recalls as if it was yesterday, following my father through the dry brown fall leaves, and finding large swaths of May apples, smaller groups of spring beauty and dutchman’s breeches, and the occasional rare trillium.  Although the Jack in the Pulpits were common and easy to find, I believe they were my favorite.

Continue reading

How To Grow Tomatoes From Seed

Although many tomato varieties are available from stores in the spring, there is nothing quite as rewarding as growing your own tomatoes from seed.  Also, if you peruse spring seed catalogs, you will note hundreds of tempting varieties of tomatoes are available from seed, as opposed to the few varieties you can find to purchase as plants.  I grew up in a home where seeds were chosen when the seed catalogs first arrived, planted in March, and moved from sunny window to window until hardened outside and planted in the garden.  It just wasn’t spring without watching the tomatoes grow!

Continue reading