In the 1960’s, our culture was very different. One huge difference was in every day advertising. An example of this is cigarettes. Virginia Slims was a brand manufactured by Altria (formerly Phillip Morris Companies). The brand was introduced in 1968 and marketed to young professional women using the slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” This catch phrase has worked its way into societal idioms and is occasionally still used. While thinking about the Arboretum and the fact that it is our 20th anniversary this year, I found the expression especially appropriate.
In 1996, this land was pretty much a livestock pasture. According to Arboretum records, there were about 100 trees already here, most of them along the small stream just to the west of where the labyrinth is located. There were also a couple of groupings of Honey Locust trees in what it is now the Shade Garden and surrounding areas.
One of the very first projects when the Arboretum was created in 1996 was to plant trees. Since then, tree planting has become an annual event. Our present collection contains 820 trees with over 115 different varieties. Of course, those first ones planted look much different now!
When the Welcome Center was originally built in 1997, it was called the Head House, a term often used for maintenance buildings. This building has since evolved into our Welcome Center, and the grass field in front of the old Head House has become the parking lot.
As well as being something entirely different to begin with, this building did not have much connection to the gardens, because the space adjacent to it was part of the service road. With the introduction of the Welcome Center, this area became the Hillside Welcome Garden with direct access to it from the Welcome Center. The Hillside Welcome Garden now serves as the entrance to the gardens and connects everything together.
The old service road area on this side of the Head House has been transformed into the Hillside Welcome Garden with the road rerouted behind the Welcome Center.
Access to the gardens was from the parking lot directly up the Arrival Garden path. With the new Welcome Center project, entry is now through the Welcome Center, into the Hillside Welcome Garden to the new path, which connects to the old Arrival Garden path via the new rose arbor.
Of course, we never could have created the wonderful entrance to the grounds via the welcome center without first having somewhere bigger and better to store the equipment. So, I will briefly mention the barn.
This is obviously only a small portion of the amazing story of our 20 years so far. This article could go on, but I will end for now by saying “You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby”!
Just remember, none of these things could have happened without all of you.
Author’s note: let me know if you are interested in seeing follow up articles that continue this story. The Arboretum’s entire history can also be accessed by going here.
Article written and photos provided by Paul Kammerdiner