First, a bit of history. When the Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Gardens began, two of the largest trees in the pasture were honey locusts. It was the natural setting for planners to begin work on what is now our current Shade Garden, and the same trees still tower over the setting.
Some years ago, Lynn Kramer, an Arboretum supporter, arranged to obtain specimens of all the daylilies that had won the prestigious Stout Award up to that point. The plants came from the extensive collection at the Kansas State University Gardens in Lawrence, Kansas. In 2011, that collection was updated to replace plants that had not survived and to obtain the newer varieties that were not a part of the original grouping. Since that time new Stout winners have been added as they receive the award and become available.
“I think that I shall never see; a poem lovely as a tree.”
This old verse is often quoted and was created by an American writer known as Joyce Kilmer. According to Wikipedia; “Joyce Kilmer (born as Alfred Joyce Kilmer; December 6, 1886 – July 30, 1918) was an American writer and poet mainly remembered for a short poem titled “Trees” (1913), which was published in the collection Trees and Other Poems in 1914.”
Children’s Garden committee members Howard Craven, Carol Dufel, Melinda Young, Maurine Crisp, Nancy Friedman, Randy Robinson, Jan Guthrie, Gary Blonigan, met through the winter to study and plan additions that would enhance visitor interaction. Many meetings were held, interviews with other gardens were conducted, and countless ideas were brought up. The resulting additions, which were all chosen so that the garden would be more interactive, are simply amazing.
By Paul Kammerdinner
Anyone who has a tree in their yard usually asks the question, “What can I plant under a tree that will grow in shade?” Sadly, grass won’t grow in the shade so it seems we are left with a bare spot. Luckily, there are different options for planting in the shade. At the Arboretum, our answer was to make a lovely spot where you can relax and get out of the hot sun.
By Paul Kammerdiner
Perhaps one of our most underexplored gardens, but one virtually everyone walks by on a visit, is the Alpine Garden. This long narrow space runs in front of the Education Center and stretches from the service road in the west up to the Ornamental Grass Garden toward the east. It also includes the space right after the annual garden bed on either side of the memorial brick walkway into the Education Center.
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 Paul Kammerdiner
We disembarked in the midst of trees and followed the path up the hill. As we advanced under the watchful eye of the tower that soared into the sky we knew that we had entered a land cut off from the concrete, blacktop and dirt that we came from. Here birds sang, the breeze smelled of grass and sunshine, dragons lurked in the peek-a-boo forest, a peacock gazed majestically into space as he spread his magnificent tail of rainbow colors, shimmers of orange and white flashed beneath the waters of the forget-me-not pond, and everywhere trees nodded to each other in the wind. But when we reached the top our eyes were drawn to the amazing beauty of the gardens.
This bit of whimsy is to introduce you to where we are in the Arboretum and what we are going to look at: the Display Gardens. In the original master plan they were called “demonstration gardens” and were to be created so that “Visitors will become acquainted with the important principles of garden composition including correct proportion, color balance, focal points and sight lines which they can use in creating their own private gardens no matter what size.”
In its earliest incarnation, Craig Ritland designed the gardens, Doan Construction installed the limestone walking paths, and Vogel Irrigation installed the sprinkler system. Then, in 2007, a sub-committee was created to plan improvements to the entire Tower Hill area with special attention to the area east of the raised bed gardens. Before this time, small gardens maintained and designed by a variety of volunteers were there.
From this group, a plan began to emerge of a collection of small gardens that would not only fulfill the stated purpose in the master plan but enhance it to include separate areas for ornamental displays, some shrubbery, and a separate space for an herb garden. Recently the herb garden has expanded into a distinct space for an edible garden. These all combined have become our wonderful Display Gardens. They lie just east of the raised bed gardens and extend from the pond on the south to the Education Center on the north. There are three round “activity lawns” in close proximity surrounded by limestone paths. These gardens are lovingly cared for by a group of dedicated and hard-working volunteers that call themselves the Weed and Unwind group. Together they have created an amazing space of color and texture; mulched pathways lead you into and through the flower gardens with something to delight all the senses everywhere you look. The herb and edible gardens can be accessed from the limestone paths.
We encourage you to take a break from the hectic routine of everyday and spend some time letting these gardens put on a display for you.