A History Rewritten-2013


The things we are starting to see when we exit our trusty time machine are becoming very familiar to most of us, but let’s stick to the original purpose of the story and let’s see what the records showed us for this year. We know from our most recent journey that we would see some new faces at the CVABG.


Robert G. Pruitt became the Executive Director at the Arboretum in September of 2012. La Rae Randall became the office assistant in April of 2013.


We had our annual retreat in January. Also, a great deal of planning is done in the “off season” by one of our standing committees, the Planning and Operations Committee (P&O).


  • Gnome Hunt

Director; Rob Pruitt came up with an idea for a scavenger hunt for kids with gnomes as the objects of the hunt. A campaign was mounted asking people to adopt a gnome by paying a fee with the privilege of naming their gnome. A group of volunteers from New Aldaya then painted the gnomes and they were placed throughout the Arboretum grounds. A map was created to help locate each gnome and prizes for successful completion were purchased. Thus, the Great Sherlock Gnome Hunt was born. Over the course of the summer over 500 children participated.


There were bound to be some in the Children’s Garden

  • Story Time

We haven’t always talked about story time, but it has been an on-going event since we first saw kids gathered in a sun flower house in the 90’s. This summertime event has remained one of our most popular, but we seldom have any photos to look at. Here is one that I found when researching information in connection with something that happened this year, we lost one of story time’s star attractions when Jake died. Jake; an albino corn snake had been a feature since 2008. Often during story time, the kids would get to watch Jake get fed.


  • Fall Harvest Festival

Other than story time, our oldest event is the festival. This is undoubtedly our most well- known event and one that everyone enjoys.



  • Welcome Center

This project officially got under way last year and finished up early on this year.

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We were also able to re-model the staff offices and the restroom facility.


The Black Hawk Country Pond Club donated $1,000 worth of equipment and hours of labor to improve our two ponds. They repaired some worn areas and installed new filtration. The water is now very clear making the fish more visible much to the delight of the children.

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Forget-me-not pond

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Children’s Garden Pond

  • Playhouse

Most times relatively small projects only need a few essential elements: an idea, people to do the work, funding, and proper approval. In this case they all came together fairly quickly. Howard Craven came up with the idea, Gary Blonigan supplied the labor required, Paul Kammerdiner provided the funding, and the P&O and the board approved the project. This was a great addition to the Children’s Garden.

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  • Children’s Garden

Mini-projects: the area on the north end that had been a small prairie was completely re-configured. The prairie plants were moved to the back of the space along the fence. This uncovered three mounded shapes which were where several new fruit trees were placed with an understory of over 1,000 strawberry plants. The prairie now flanks the north and east sides of the garden. Atop the fence are new gaily painted bird houses built by Randy Robinson and Howard Craven.

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We received a $500 grant from Khols this year and we gave it to the local model railroad club who generously donates their time and talents to run and maintain the train garden which is always a favorite. They used the money to lay some new tracks and to build a great miniature village.


Once again, this year Nancy Friedman spent many hours working in the Children’s Garden and was responsible for lots of educational and interesting signage as well as re-planting the sensory garden and adding some lovely plantings to the peek-a-boo forest.



Another new addition to the Children’s Garden this year was the music station created by Howard Craven


During the summer this space was filled with sound and laughter



  • Arrival Gardens

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  • For-get-me-not Pond Gardens

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  • Ornamental Grass Garden

What has been the White Garden didn’t fare too well in this spot so a better landscape choice was substituted and seems to be well suited for this type of terrain.

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  • Rock Garden

This space is maturing nicely

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  • Annual Gardens

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The theme for this year was Sunflowers so in keeping with that and following along with the focus on children; Maurine Crisp; Billie Hemmer; and Sara Jansen created the sunflower house in the annual bed located just outside the education center.

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  • Display Gardens

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  • East Prairie

The new prairie is recovering somewhat with the end of last year’s drought although many of the prairie flowers (Forbes) don’t seem to being too well. We have decided to mow it a couple of times a year until we can do more research on how we might be able to revive it.



14 new trees were planted in 2013 with funds from a Green Scene Grant

Three of the Arborvitae that are a backdrop to the Rose Garden died due to the drought of 2012 and we replaced them this year.


3 new trees were added to the Conifer Garden. We already saw the new fruit trees added to the Children’s Garden, they were 1-Cherry, 2-Plums, 2-Peaches, and 2-Apples. Also in the Children’s Garden a great new tree was placed in the circle to the south of the sensory garden; an Ivory Silk Japanese Lilac



We have been spectators to another growing season here in our favorite garden spot. Everywhere we looked and everything we saw unfold, came about because of CVABG’s magnificent troop of Volunteers. We have named some as we went along, many more we don’t have information about, but they are there.  No photos this year, but thank you one and all! These stories are always about you.

As this season comes to an end, there is one more task and the volunteers come forth once more and get it accomplished.

The Arboretum has a wonderful collection of day lilies; the Stout award winning variety for each year since its inception in 1950 (with a couple of missing years which will be added next year).

This collection had been located on the south edge of the shade garden but we felt it needed a much more visible spot; so, this fall, we moved the entire collection to the side of the paved path that leads to the shade garden.


Above is the new home for the lily collection.

As our time machine takes off, just think about seeing these lilies in bloom along the walkway at our next stop.

A History Rewritten- 2012


We have dropped into this year and we’re not in 1996 anymore Toto. Things are changing and will continue to do so. Remember our motto: Ever Growing, Ever Changing



I found the following document in the records. This plan kicked off what would become a subcommittee called the Expansion Committee. Here is an excerpt from it.

Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens Expansion Project

To remain relevant and experience continued growth, the Arboretum must become a year-round facility that includes updated infrastructure easily accessible to the public.   The Arboretum’s proposed expansion is three-fold:

  • Create a Permanent Welcome Center and Staff Offices On-Site
  • Enhance the Usability of the Gardens and Grounds
  • Expand Gardens and Woodland Trails


Maybe some day soon we will start taking photos of our events again. Until then, moving on.


  • Children’s Garden

A sub-committee was formed consisting of Nancy Friedman, Mollie Aronowitz, Melinda Young, and Paul Kammerdiner, to come up with some enhancements within the space, the group with a little help from our friends, completed all of them this growing season

  1. A chalkboard dragon
  2. A toddler trail through the evergreen forest
  3. Re-purposing the two “circle areas” into gardens
  4. Painting the kid’s chairs
  5. Turning one of the silos into a “castle”
  6. Adding new colorful plant material throughout

We also tried to spruce up the area a bit. We weeded the kid’s prairie and planted some annuals in strategic places. We actually brainstormed a few more ideas but only worked on those that we felt we could get accomplished this year.


The chalkboard dragon designed by Nancy Friedman and built by Randy Robinson

Randy also cut out some chairs from a cedar log and built a “balance beam” for the toddler trail.


The toddler trail complete with a gravel path, stepping “stones” and a balance beam was constructed by Nancy and Bob Friedman


One of the circle areas that had been a pumpkin patch in the past was made into the snail trail by Nancy Friedman and Paul Kammerdiner


The old soil lab circle was made into a sensory garden by Paul Kammerdiner and Melinda Young

The Children’s Garden needed some more bright colors so the kids chairs were painted


With enough imagination even a silo can become a castle; Randy Robinson and Pat McGivern installed a framework with windows and banners.

2012-9Here is the castle with the shields on the wall and vines starting to grow.


New plantings in several areas have brightened up the space.

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  • East Prairie

The prairie from the Master Plan was established several years ago, but never really become much a part of CVABG proper. This was probably due to its location across the road from the rest of the site. The Master Plan main entrance has not come to fruition, so there is no connection. Because of that the planning and operations committee has given Paul Kammerdiner permission to look into other possibilities.

This year a group of Terry Roger’s Hawkeye students re-purposed some “weed field” land that is located on the far eastern end of the Arboretum across the creek into a prairie. Unfortunately, the harsh drought during the summer produced less than great results but they re-seeded it in the fall and hopes are high that the area will yet develop into what we are hoping for. This is about a 2-acre space and is on either side of the mown grass path.

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  • Welcome Center (this building is actually the old Head House)

Looking back to the planning section and the Expansion Committee’s agenda, the number 1 time on their plan is started this year. It is called a permanent welcome center. That would seem to suggest that we are moving away from the Master Plan concept of having a temporary Visitor’s Center until the implementation of phase 4.

Below is the initial drawing for the Welcome Center from – Summer 2012 (not to scale)

Arb Welcome Center Layout

Next is the key for the drawing:

  1. Mailboxes for staff, committees, etc.
  2. Workstation #1. Standard 24” deep counter, “L” shaped.
  3. 4’ high wall with 16” counter, bulletin board interior.
  4. Large bulletin board with Arboretum grounds map, etc. Remove window.
  5. New door.
  6. Brochure rack.
  7. Workstation #2. Standard 24” deep counter, “L” shaped.
  8. Bulletin board and shelving.
  9. Standing-height counter with storage below for paper, envelopes, etc.
  10. File cabinets and copier.
  11. New windows. Remove southeast walk-in door.
  12. Patio door.
  13. Workstation #3 for public use, shelving, etc.
  14. Sink
  15. Remove urinal.
  16. Locking cabinet for cleaning supplies, etc.
  17. Open space available for meetings, etc.
  18. Hooks for coats, etc.

Additional Notes:

  • Install fan(s) in main area.
  • Install blinds for all windows (4).


  • Display Gardens


  • Annual Gardens

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  • Sensory Garden



The plant list shows we purchased the following new trees

1 White Clump Fringe Tree
1 Yellow Ribbon Arborvitae
1 Baby Blue Chamaecyparis
1 Dwarf Piccolo Balsam
1 Fire-fall Maple


Rats! No photos, our outstanding people deserve better.

Ever Growing, Ever Changing. Before the year is over, Molly has moved away and we have a new Executive Director. A warm welcome to Rob Pruitt.

All aboard! We are ever closer to now.