A History Revisited-The Arboretum in 1996 by Paul Kammerdiner

Just an interlude before we take a look at this exciting start to our destination.

If you remember from last time, one of the original “idea” people is Dick Meyerhoff. I found a little gem in our records. It is a newsletter (I think from Green scene), I found this quote from it very interesting:

“Several years ago, after a trip to the Dubuque Botanical Gardens, Dick asked the question, why not here? One of the first stages in the development of the Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Gardens occurred when Dick organized the Cedar Valley Herb Club and African Violet Club. He believed these garden enthusiasts would assist in building support for the Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Gardens.”

1996-1

So, here we go, into the past: we have landed on Orange Road and are looking up at the sign, in the foreground, along what looks like a row of mulch, we can see a hose!!

From now on you notice the same headings in the verbiage parts of our journey; this is to ensure some continuity in the narrative.

 

PLANNING

In these early days, we often used facilities at the College for any indoor activities.

1996-2

  • In January a grant was obtained from the Hotel/Motel tax fund for $12,500.
  • This money and other fund-raising efforts resulted in a total of $50,000 that was used to develop the Master Plan for the site.
  • A national search was made to select a landscape architect to develop a master plan for the 74-acre site. Approximately 20 potential firms were contacted.
  • Five were then selected for further review; three of which visited the site to be interviewed.
  • Buettner and Associates from Fox Point Wisconsin teamed with Craig Ritland, a landscape architect from Waterloo and was the group selected.
  • An Ad Hoc Design Committee was formed and met in March, April, May, and June. Their task was to guide the development of the master plan.
  • They visited the site on numerous occasions and met with Jerry Bolton and Rod Swinton from Hawkeye to discuss the transition from agricultural land use to vegetation cover suitable for the Arboretum as it began to assume management of the property.

    1996-3

  • Craig Ritland met with a group consisting of Bob Lentz, Monica Smith, Robinson Engineering and other consulting engineers to discuss the impending connection of Hess Road with a new road going west to ensure that the layout and design of that road were compatible with the Arboretum master plan. This new road would become Arboretum Drive.
  • The design team was given copies of the 1995 Prospectus and Financial Model that were prepared by the Arboretum committee. This team also received a conceptual sketch showing a “wish list” of theme gardens the committee would like to see included in the master plan.
  • Four additional town hall meetings are held this year with various community groups and valuable input is gathered.

 

There will be many references to the Master Plan in this narrative, again, let me emphasize that what I have to say is about information. The documents I have are just that, documents. They only tell what happened, why they did is not part of this story, I will speculate from time to time, but just for fun and not to criticize. In these first years, for historical value, I put in names of people when I had them.

Following is the concept drawing of the Master Plan

1996-4

To the left is Orange Road. Along the bottom is Hess Road, and the road up the middle is Arboretum Drive. Notice that the main entrance is to be from Arboretum Drive; see the red line, the road from Orange is a service road and is still used as our entrance. The main entrance from this plan would be where the mulch piles are located presently behind and a bit Northwest of the present-day Children’s Garden

EVENTS

  • Ceremonial First Tree and Ground Breaking

Dr. Barry president of Hawkeye Community College holds a large luncheon to announce the creation of the Arboretum. Many community leaders attend and a tree donated by Bob Frost is symbolically planted.

The only access to the site at this time was from Orange Road via a small entry to the service area for the tower, so this tree was planted in that area

1996-5

1996-6

  • Easter Egg Hunt

It is important that the community begins to learn about this exciting new space, so events are planned to do just that. The Easter Egg Hunt activities are in Tama Hall at Hawkeye and then move outside to the Arboretum grounds to look for eggs. 

 

  • Parades and other events

Local events became ways to introduce the Arboretum to the Cedar Valley

This year we participated in parades

We had booths at various events

Education is part of our mission and putting on classes is another great way to make ourselves known.

  • Sesquicentennial Calendar

This was a fundraiser that raised $23,000. A total of 320 calendars and 49 prints were sold. The calendar was composed of 13 original prints by artist Jolene Rosauer.

 

PROJECTS

These activities would center around elements of the Master Plan,

  • The Sesquicentennial Forest

A quote from that plan; “plantings for Arbor Day 1996 will initiate the sesquicentennial forest”. This if from Phase One-A and access will be via Orange Road where a drive exists.

 

The red line is where these trees were supposed to go. You can see Orange Road on the left of the photo which is South. So, this tree planting is right where it is supposed to be. This is the Arboretum aspect of the master plan, notice this Arboretum is designed to surround the entire site with a main loop trail running through it.

1996-29

The following is from an article written by Craig Gibleon:

April 1996, The First Planting

“Local nurseries had dropped off 150 or so trees that were to be planted by the group Kelly Conrad and I were waiting for.  HCC students enrolled in various programs on campus were going to plant more trees the following week in celebration of Earth Week.  The rain subsided, and members of the CVABG’s first Board of Directors began arriving with shovels, coffee and lots of ambitious plans.

The only ray of sunshine we saw that morning was Jan Guthrie coming around to the various planting sites with words of encouragement for the volunteers.  By midmorning, in spite of Jan’s best efforts, words of encouragement were being dampened by blowing wet snow.  Every so often that snow would change to these weird little ice chunks the likes of which I had not seen in all my 45+ years in Iowa.  I had been on site for four hours when Roger Jordan came up with his hair and eyebrows caked in ice chunks.  He looked like some kind of Iowa Polar Bear headed for the cornfield. We planted trees until noon.  With Jan’s offer of a warm lunch, shovels started dropping and there was a sudden retreat from the snow and ice.  With our determination to plant in spite of the snow, ice, and wind, we began the Sesquicentennial Forest that day – a day none of the planters can ever forget.”

Early Infrastructure

  • Water

With any new plantings, one necessity is water. The nearest source was a hydrant at the college. A hose is hooked to that and snakes its way up the fence-line to the Arboretum.

1996-34

 Fence removal

The site has been a livestock pasture and is fenced in. One early project is to begin to remove it. An interesting note, in what started as the Wattle Garden and is at present Tim’s Garden, several of the original fence posts are still standing. Also, if you were to fight your way through the underbrush of the tree line behind the present-day barn, you could see a small section of this original fence. This would be an on-going project over several years.

1996-35

  • Hess Road Connection

The Arboretum site boundaries are the roads that surround it. Orange Road to the South, Campus View Drive to the West, the not yet constructed Arboretum Drive to the North, and on the East, what is still a dirt road in 1996, Hess Road. In this first year of projects, there is no easy access to the far Eastern part of the site over by Hess Road. There is a small creek cutting that part off from the rest. This project is to install a culvert in the creek bed to allow for the construction of a “bridge” over the creek.

1996-36

The creek usually only has a lot of water in the early Spring.

With access to this part of the site; we began to clear out some brush

1996-40

GARDENS

There are 22 gardens shown on the Master Plan garden index and are introduced in the first two phases. Here they are, we will talk about them as we travel along the timeline in this series of articles.

Phase one-A

Arrival/Annual Garden; Demonstration Gardens; Community Gardens, Vegetable and Sensory Garden; Wedding Garden; Walled Garden; Herb Garden; Children’s Garden; Shrub Rose Garden; Formal Rose Garden

Phase one-B

Perennial Garden; Water Garden; Butterfly Garden; Bird Garden; Shrub Garden; Pergola Garden; Ornamental Grass Garden; Fern Grotto; Moon Viewing Garden; Shade Garden

Phase two

Contemporary Japanese Garden, Native American Garden

Note; Almost all of these garden locations on the Master Plan are in the Southeast part of the site; extending from just East of the service gate entrance down the hill to the creek. Using the service entry (currently it is our main gate) as a point of reference, here is what the Master Plan garden layout looked like.

To the Southwest was to be the service area building with the nursery in front of it: to the East and along the Southern edge would be part of the Arboretum that would surround the entire site. A winding trail would go East toward Hess Road, North of this trail is another band of trees and North of them, the gardens are located. (more about these garden locations as we go along)

1996-41

  • Wattle Garden

A space where the first ornamentals were planted would become known as the Wattle Garden (a Wattle is a fence made out of sticks). It was the very first garden and in addition to clematis growing up the posts also had a display of annuals around the outside.

1996-42

The green dot is the Wattle Garden. As you can see, there was not a garden in this space on the plan, nor is it named in the garden list.

  • Community Gardens

Here is an odd fact, these gardens are clearly shown on the master plan drawing that I have been highlighting, but there is not a garden description for them in the master plan.

Even though these gardens did not get planted until next year, plans to do so were underway as evidenced in the article written by Craig Gibleon.

Summer 1996

“The idea of a Community Garden is a popular one.  Our area is blessed with an abundance of individuals with the expertise to turn a 100-square-foot garden plot into a showpiece.   A Community Garden would bring a number of these people together and help solidify the Arboretum’s volunteer base.

Our friends at HCC helped us again.  The Grounds Department brought in equipment and graded the site for drainage and leveling.  Before they went back to work on campus, they put down grass seed, leaving the rest to CVABG volunteers.”

Over the next few weeks, a limestone walkway was installed and future planting beds were marked and rototilled.  By fall, the soil in the planting beds had been fortified and fertilized.  Plans for an early spring planting were well underway as “rules” for planting had been written and mailers were at the printer.”

I recall from my first year volunteering that you had to submit a plan and have it approved in order to have your own community garden, this was in 2009, these would be the rules referred to here, I guess.

TREES

  • I made an interesting discovery when searching the boxes of stuff. An old computer disk! I was able to download it and it turned out to be a database table of a tree inventory from 1996-2003. Here is a tree list from 1996 that was in the database. Remember if you decide to go looking for these, that trees have died over the years and been removed, some have blown over or been cut down to make way for other things.

 

Species Number Planted
Amur Maple 4
Black Maple 5
Red Maple 1
River Birch 5
Iron Wood 2
Black Haw 1
Pagoda Dogwood 1
Eastern Red Cedar 10
Emerald Arborvitae 2
European Spindle Tree 1
Techny Arborvitae 3
Red Bud 1
Kentucky Coffee Tree 1
Honey Locust 1
White Oak 4
Swamp White Oak 1
Northern Red Oak 2
Pin Oak 6
Shagbark Hickory 1
White Ash 4
Eastern White Pine 5
Red Pine 5
Scots Pine 1
White Spruce 25
Spruce 1
Serviceberry 1
American Basswood 5
Hackberry 3

A good many of these trees were planted in the Sesquicentennial Forest that we talked about in the projects section. However, true to the Master Plan idea of surrounding the site with the Arboretum, some of these trees were planted in other areas. I know that the White Spruce were all planted in a row starting at the Western end of the site toward the North. Pretty sure the River Birch were planted over toward the Southwestern end of the site. I also know that the row of lilacs along the South line from the West to the entrance were planted this year.

While we are talking about trees, I found the following photos of what looks like some sort of formal tree planting. Sadly, I don’t know anything else about it but have a look anyway.

VOLUNTEERS

This wonderful site exists because of the vision and hard work of dedicated volunteers. That is how it started and that is how it continues. There are countless ways to contribute.

FIRST BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Charlie Lott                 Craig Gibleon              Kelly Conrad              Wanda Sauerbrei

Leila George               Maurine Crisp             Rosemary Beach         Jolene Rosauer

Joy Swartz                  Jan Guthrie

 

To round out this first year of its existence, a few pictures to remind us of how great a transformation is taking place.

Next time; it’s full speed ahead as we move closer to present day!

 

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