By Paul Kammerdiner
The back bone of our grounds has always been the tree collection. Since they are the most slow-growing of our many plantings, they were planted before anything else. Many trees were planted in the middle 90s and helped to create the perimeter of our green space.
By the start of the new century, the “footprint” of the Arboretum was established with a defined parking lot, the head house, and the tower hill area. Rapid growth took place with the construction of the Education Center, Children’s Garden, and Rose Garden in the early years of the 2000s.
The natural progression was to then begin to tie it all together and fill in the middle. The first step in this process took place in 2005 when the Arrival Gardens were planted. They would act as a connection from the parking lot up the hill to the major activity center of the grounds. These gardens appeared in the original master plan as Shrub Gardens. Quoting from that plan; “the shrub garden will be an extensive collection displaying both native and exotic shrubs.”
Planning for this space began in 2004. Long-time supporter of the Arboretum and landscape architect, Craig Ritland, donated his professional services to design the Arrival Gardens. The plan was for a layered effect to showcase multiple colors, shapes, sizes and textures which will be combined for aesthetic appeal. This garden would be planted with all volunteer labor and a donation in the form of reduced cost plant materials from Jack Meyers from Meyers Nursery.
This is what the north western part of the Arboretum grounds looked like in 1997. By the end of the 90s, the parking lot was established south of the building. This started out as the maintenance building and was later remodeled into what is now the Welcome Center. To the east up the hill, north of the tower, was where the rest of the gardens and buildings would eventually be.
This is the top of the hill in 1999; it contained the community gardens, raised bed gardens, the beginnings of the display gardens, several shade structures, and an L shaped section of red wood fence.
The Arrival Garden would connect the two spaces pictured and would introduce visitors to the grounds. This garden would also serve the educational purpose of allowing visitors to see shrubs that would thrive in their own gardens and allow them to gauge size and shape of these various plants. The following is a listing of the shrubs for the Arrival Garden taken from the original plant lists found in our documents.
“Rose Glow Barberry, Ivory Halo Dogwood, Red Twig Dogwood, Yellow Twig Dogwood, Royal Purple Smoke Bush, Dwarf Burning Bush, Northern Sun Forsythia, Anabel Hydrangea, Dart’s Gold Ninebark, Diablo Ninebark, Grow-low Fragrant Sumac, Japanese White Spirea, Little Princess Spirea, Dakota Charm Spirea, Snow-mound Spirea, Crisp Leaf Spirea, Anthony Waterer Spirea, Frobel Spirea, Gold Flame Spirea, Gold-mound Spirea, Neon-flash Spirea, Dwarf Korean Lilac, Miss Kim Lilac, Alfredo Compact Cranberry, American Cranberry, and Java Red Weigela.”
In addition to shrubbery, several trees were planted in and around this space to tie everything together. Infrastructure was added to serve the purpose of making this the connection from the parking lot to the top of “tower hill”. This included brick paver and lime rock pathways, a welcome kiosk, education and information signage, and benches.
The following photos only scratch the surface of what this lovely area looks like now.
As is the case with all of our grounds, we are constantly looking for new and exciting ways to improve and enhance them. Keep coming back to see the ever changing kaleidoscope of colors and textures, a visit to the Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Gardens is rarely ever the same twice!