Recipe for a garden-by Beth Lavenz

When you think of a garden, you’re not likely to associate the different flowers and plants as integral parts of the recipe to create a garden. Flowers are not easily measurable like dry ingredients and it’s no easy feat to tell when a garden is complete by using a toothpick. All joking aside though, many people think that gardens and cooking are two completely different worlds, however, there are many similarities to the work of a chef or baker and the work of a gardener. Continue reading


A History Rewritten- Part 4 by Paul Kammerdiner

1999  From a time- machine, you always can look down on a place!

1999-1Notice the top left of the photo, we can see the Head House, cars parked up by the tower and stretching to the East the fledgling arboretum, we can also see the new road (Arboretum Drive) to the top of the photo. The red line is where the entrance was supposed to be for CVABG.



This is a good year to introduce my axiom for CVABG; Ever Growing, Ever Changing!

Planning always starts in the months prior to the growing season so we can devote the warm months to working outdoors as we build and plant.

  • This year we have a new Executive Director, Sue Shuerman.

Lots of things going on as we pick up the pace and start some major additions to our green space.

Continue reading

Horticulture: Therapy for all, a prescription for some By Rita Lynn

Did you ever wonder why so many fabrics used in our homes and for our clothing have plant and flower patterns?  Have you had the opportunity to take advantage of the natural environments that fine hotels build, at great expense, in their indoor public spaces?  Are you right now perusing seed catalogs and yearning for gardening weather to return?  We humans appear to be programmed to enjoy green, living environments.

Shade Garden.JPG

As early as 2000 B.C., stressed monarchs were prescribed walks in their gardens to calm their senses.  Records from around 500 B.C. indicate that Persians created gardens that stimulated all the senses by incorporating visual beauty, appealing fragrances, cooling temperatures, and music in the form of flowing water.  Now leap forward to current times.  We have come to recognize a number of positive effects when we engage in activities related to horticulture.


Gardening keeps us active.  It is easier for many of us to work off the suggested weekly amount of exercise in our gardens than it is to adhere to an aerobics routine.  In fact, we’re likely to spend even more than the suggested amount of time, working both our upper and lower bodies, without even realizing we’re doing so.  In turn, we can lower our blood pressure, burn calories, and address all those other factors that help stave off such modern banes as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.  Meanwhile, we are increasing strength, stamina, and flexibility, and we are out in the sun (being sure to use sunscreen to block harmful rays), allowing our bodies to absorb vitamin D.  We can help children develop a sense of responsibility when we give them seeds and a garden patch, and they will be more likely to try vegetables they have helped grow and harvest, than the ones that just appear on their plates from the grocery store.


We know there are psychological benefits as well.  Although even a few plants on the patio can keep us from being self-centered and self-absorbed, a garden also allows us to escape from the bustle of our lives and rest in the simple beauty and in the soothingly rhythmic qualities of growing things.  In the garden, we can focus on the here and now instead of the worries and stresses of the past and future.  Or we can vent our anger by hoeing, chopping, tamping, and all those more rigorous tasks a garden might require.


Simply breathing outdoor air has been shown to have benefits.  Studies have suggested that bacteria that live in soil, M. vaccae, can produce increased serotonin levels in humans.  Thus, when we stir up these bacteria by “playing in the dirt” of our gardens, or even when we just go outside and breathe the air around us, we might experience reduced anxiety and a lighter mood.


The benefits can go on and on.  Better sleep after our exercise outdoors, increased hand strength, improved self-esteem, better nutrition through eating the healthy produce we harvest and increased social contact are all listed as positive impacts of gardening.  Gardening can also influence the family budget.  The produce raised decreases the food bill, and a pleasantly landscaped lot can increase the value of our homes.

Recently, researchers have worked to quantify the benefits of engaging in horticultural activities.  A 2006 study demonstrated that gardening could lower the risk of dementia, and people with dementia have shown reduced agitation and improved cognition and sleep patterns.  In general, studies in several areas have statistically demonstrated that therapy in horticulture settings can reduce pain and stress, improve attention, decrease the use of medications, and reduce falls.  For example, one study had subjects participate in a stressful activity followed either by 30 minutes of indoor reading or 30 minutes of gardening.  Both groups reported reduced stress, but the group who gardened experienced a significantly greater level of stress relief.



With all these experienced and even statistically supported benefits of gardening, it seems as if it is as good as therapy.  Well, way back in 1812, Dr. Benjamin Rush, often called the father of American Psychiatry, published a book, Medical Inquiries and Observations Upon Diseases of the Mind.  In it, Dr. Rush noted that one of the activities that separated those who recovered from “mania” from those who did not, was “digging in a garden.” (Detweiler et al. article)  Because of that, the hospital grounds provided paths through landscaped areas for patient wandering.  Eventually, psychiatric hospitals all over the United States included horticultural activities for their clients.


Hospitals also found gardening and agricultural activities benefited veterans returning from WWI.  Consequently, occupational and recreational therapists began using horticulture activities as mental health treatment modalities.  Later, in 1959, a greenhouse was built at the Rusk Institute in New York City to go beyond addressing psychiatric issues, to assisting in diagnosis and physical rehabilitation.  Finally, in 1972, the Menninger Foundation and the Horticulture Department at the University of Kansas worked together to train students studying in the mental health field.  This, then, was the first Horticulture Therapy (HT) curriculum in the United States.

Since that time, the use of HT has grown to include treatment for a wide range of diagnoses and has been accepted as an effective therapeutic modality in rehabilitation, vocational and community settings.  HT’s can be found working in a wide range of places.  These include hospitals, programs for people with developmental impairments, adult day treatment facilities, special education schools, programs for at-risk youth, hospice programs, and community and public gardens.


Professionals with degrees in related fields, who have a special interest in horticulture as a modality, can enroll in programs leading to a certificate in HT.  Those who have completed bachelor’s degrees can also work toward registration by the American Horticultural Therapy Association.  Included in the requirements for this recognition is a 480-hour internship in horticultural therapy as a treatment modality.

As you see, there are many reasons why our interest and involvement in gardening and other plant-related pursuits are good for us.  You can legitimately call it therapy!  So pick up those seed catalogs and dream away.  That alone is an act of faith that the world around us will again be green and full of beautiful growing things.



What are the physical and mental benefits of gardening?

5 surprising ways gardening improves your health,”

What is the evidence to support the use of therapeutic gardens for the elderly?” Mark B. Detweiler et al.,

Petal power: why is gardening so goo for our mental health?

Horticultural Therapy,”

Professional registration with the American Horticultural Therapy Association,”

Horticultural therapy as a career,”

Horticultural therapy careers,”

A History Rewritten-1997 by Paul Kammerdiner



In this photo, the red line shows the area we will begin to develop first. North is to the right on the photo, so Hawkeye is to the West of the site.

We are now establishing our routine and begin the year with what will be known as the annual meeting or the annual retreat, again this year meetings are held at Hawkeye.


  • Annual Retreat

Winter is the time for brainstorming new ideas for the next growing season, to have some fun too!

Last year one element of the Master Plan Phase One-A had been started, the beginning of the Arboretum aspect of the site by planting the Sesquicentennial Forest. This same part of the plan also calls for a nursery, a material storage area/service building, an access road, temporary parking, and a siltation pond. Plans for this year are to complete all of these except the pond.

An ambitious agenda: let’s see how the year unfolded beginning with:


  • Early Clean Up

This would correspond to what we now call “waking up the gardens”, at this time there wasn’t much to wake up. There was, however, a great deal of space to clear.

These are the days before the ordinance that forbade burning and the days before we had a mowing crew and this is how we handled taming the wilderness. We burned the weeds!


Some cleanup is done just by pulling stuff out; notice the entrance in the background of this photo, it still is just a stock gate. The area that looks like it may be crushed asphalt is what was adjacent to the tower and was the first parking area. The service road system to the West did not exist until later in the year.

  • Easter Egg Hunt

This is a repeat event and looks to be popular with the kids


  • Herb Club Picnic

Early on, the Cedar Valley is discovering that the Arboretum is a great place to gather.

  • Winter Fest

Took place over at Hawkeye and was kid oriented and indoors.



  • Storage area/service building; called the Head House


We are still in Phase One-A of the Master Plan. This building was located more to the Southwest in the plan-about where the barn is now. I did not find any documentation that told me why it ended up where it is now, but about in this spot on the Master Plan is a building called the Temporary Visitor’s Center.

Construction began in June. Fundraising was carried out by a committee chaired by Craig Gibleon. They established a fund of $15,000. Tom Walton and the U.S. West Telephone Pioneers volunteered to organize construction.

This national community service organization would contribute many volunteer hours during these early years.

Notice on the image below, the red dot is where the service building was supposed to be. The green dot is the entry road, and the blue dot is where the head house was built.

The completed Head House; notice that there are a few White Spruce trees to the North but no parking lot, or access road.

  • Nursery

This is one more element of the Master Plan and was implemented this year

These berms of mulch formed the first Nursery and it was located to the East of the Head House where the Arrival Garden and the back of the Rose Garden are now.

From photos over the years, it appears that all sorts of plants were grown here

  • Access Road

This Master Plan element was to lead to the temporary parking lot and it did eventually do that. For right now it connects the entrance to the Head House.

  • Tool Sheds

This is not really a Master Plan element but the decision has been made to start on the Community Gardens which are located on the Master Plan up on tower hill.

This location is the red dot on the image below and you can see that they were originally pretty close to that location until they were moved farther West in later years.


An article in the Arboretum newsletter talks about building sheds to keep tools for people to use when working in the Community Gardens. It also talks about these structures being used for shade.

Some lime-gravel walkways were also added in this area.

You can see the little shade seating area in the front

Notice here that there are two sheds, one closer to the tower and one farther North, they are connected with a gravel path. The farthest one has nothing to the North of it except a corn field. This land to the North is part of the Arboretum site but until we were ready to develop it, Hawkeye used it for their Agriculture Classes.


  • Community Gardens

I mentioned these gardens in our previous stop on the timeline and said they are on the Master Plan, the image below shows where they were and we put them fairly close to that spot. (see the red dot)


These plots were laid out last year and are to the East of the tower where the Display Garden is now, they would later be moved over to the West. I didn’t find any photos of this year’s gardens in bloom.


  • Wattle Garden

This year the annuals are decorative Kale and Cabbage


The next images that I found show some new gardens that are planted and I am beginning to speculate again. There is a garden on the master plan called Annual/Arrival Garden. Here is part of the description of the plan: “the arrival garden should be simple, colorful, and change from year to year”

There is a spot on the Master Plan called, Annuals (see the red dot on the image) and I wonder if the next few gardens were an attempt at incorporating some Annual Gardens into the site.


Perhaps, the Wattle Garden falls into this category as well. If so, they were moved farther West, up by the Community Gardens. I should probably make note of the fact that, present day, we have gardens we call Annual Gardens and one we call the Arrival Garden, they are very different from these early ones, but kind of similar. I will make further note of them when we get there on our time journey.


  • Iris Garden


  • Raised Beds Gardens


  • Trial Gardens


  • Wheel Garden


  • Tulip Garden

We received a donation of tulip bulbs from Platts, these were planted up by the Tower.

  • Herb Garden

This is another garden from the master plan; here is how it is described:

“the visitor will venture from the Walled Garden into a warm, sunny garden with stone paving and large pots filled with silver leafed plants reminiscent of sun-drenched Mediterranean gardens. The south wall of the Walled Garden will provide reflected heat and light, making this space a delightful contrast to the shady walk through adjacent gardens. Herbs for cooking, medicine, dye, and fragrance will be grouped in display beds.”

The image below gives us an orientation of where they are talking about from the Master Plan (red dot is the herb garden)


This is the first layout for the Herb Garden, started by the Herb Club: it remains in this same spot, present day, but is farther West from the location on the Master Plan.


  • Green Scene Garden

I mentioned that Green Scene has had gardens at CVABG from the start, this year one of their gardens was a project for the Food Bank.


Delivery of the produce to the Food Bank


Tree Species Number Planted
Black Maple 4
Variegated Norway Maple 1
Silver Queen Maple 1
River Birch 1
Northern Catalpa 6
Techny Arborvitae 2
Redbud 4
Sunburst Locust 1
White Oak 1
Northern Red Oak 5
Bur Oak 7
Scarlet Oak 1
Shingle Oak 2
Pin Oak 2
Ohio Buckeye 2
Horse Chestnut 1
Shagbark Hickory 1
Bitternut Hickory 1
Autumn Purple Ash 2
Lodge Pole Pine 1
Austrian Pine 1
American Basswood 1
Little Leaf Linden 1


I know where many of these trees are so I can tell you that some of them were planted just East of where the annual beds are being planted in 1997, while some of these were planted across the creek toward Hess Road.


Here is the River Birch planted this year- it is over to the West by what is now the Barn, you can also see the ones planted last year.


And the Sesquicentennial Forest has had a year to grow.



The driving force will always be the volunteers. As you have noticed in the photos EVERYTHING is accomplished through the dedicated people that love the CVABG.

1997 was a year of great progress and interest is building within the community!


Back into our time machine and on to 1998.

6 resolutions you can complete with the help of the Arboretum

When it comes to New Year’s Resolutions there seem to be three groups of people; those who love to make resolutions and have the dedication to follow them, those who make resolutions and try to accomplish their goals but eventually forget they had them, and those who save time and frustration by not making any resolutions in the first place. No matter the kind of resolution maker you are we have six easy resolutions that you can complete with the help of the Arboretum.

#1- Reconnect with nature.

One thing that we see and hear from visitors that they come to the Arboretum to get away from technology. With plenty of benches and picnic tables, there is always a place to sit and take in the beauty.


#2- Get fit.

Almost everyone has at one point had the resolution to lose weight. Gym memberships are great if you’re looking for high impact workouts or access to specialized equipment. However, for those looking for lower impact workouts a trip (or a few) to the Arboretum may be just what you need. With over 40 acres and a variety of mulch, gravel, and paved trails there is plenty of space for you to get your heart pumping.


#3-Buy local.

One of the biggest changes in retail right now is the push to shop local and while we don’t have the worlds largest gift shop we do have plenty of locally produced gift shop items from some extremely talented people. We are always working to find new items to place in our gift shop and love to help support the people who make our community great. Pick something up the next time you stop by!


#4-Keep on learning.

One of the things we are working on very hard this winter is to schedule at least one educational opportunity such as a class or workshop every month from May through October. Classes and workshops at the Arboretum are low-cost, fun to participate in, and cover a variety of topics. Another great thing to keep in mind is that members receive a discount on all classes they attend.


#5-Share more.

It may seem silly to make a resolution to share more but sharing and giving of ourselves to help others is a great way to make a difference in our communities. When you want to help a non-profit you can share more than just your money. Sharing time, talents, or even simple items can make a huge difference in a non-profit’s ability to continue their mission. Share your time by becoming a volunteer, helping with an event, or joining a committee. Share your talents by becoming a teacher for a class at the Arboretum, helping to lead story time, or creating a fantastic new event. Share your items by donating new or gently used garden items. Follow our wishlist or call the office to see if there are any items we are in need of.


#6-Be present.

Out of all the resolutions, the Arboretum can help you achieve this may be the most important one. Take time to stop, breathe, recenter yourself, and be present in the moment. Take some time to stop and smell the roses in the Rose garden. Walk through the butterfly meadow and see the butterflies as they fly from plant to plant. Visit the bee-hive and hear the bee’s buzzing as they work hard to produce honey. Whatever you do, give it your full attention.

7.11.2011 109 edited

We are so excited to see what the new year will bring! Follow us on Facebook for the latest and greatest about the Arboretum and the upcoming season.

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.”


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.



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


  • 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.


  • 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


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


  • 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



  • 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.



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.


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.


 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.


  • 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.


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



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)


  • 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.


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.


  • 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.


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.


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!


Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens In Retrospect – The first in a series by Paul Kammerdiner


History is defined, according to the dictionary, as, “the whole series of past events connected with someone or something.” For me, everything is about people. That is where the stories are. So, this is not so much a definitive history about a place called the Arboretum, but a kaleidoscope of people and what they started to do; what the collective story was and is; and what it will be. It comes from a bunch of documents, articles, and photos that I dug out of old files. Some of it may not be completely accurate, but that is not intentional. Some of it is what I see in the pictorial record, so that is open to a different interpretation. None of it is meant to be critical, political, or to further any agenda. It is, quite simply, a labor of love – my inordinate fondness for stories. Here begins my take on the story of the Arboretum.

According to an interview with Jan Guthrie and Maurine Crisp, in the late 1980’s local gardening enthusiast Dick Meyerhoff suggested starting various clubs throughout the Cedar Valley devoted to growing things. They would include organizations like the Men’s Garden Club, the African Violet Club, and the Herb Club.
Then in 1994, according to a document in our records titled, “Cedar Valley Botanical Garden Proposal,” a concept was being developed to combine these activities into an actual public space. The organizers listed in this document are Kelly Conrad, Tom Lawler, and Ron Camarata.
This concept was later modified, and Fred Button joined the group which would expand to include Waterloo and Cedar Falls Parks Departments, Cedar Valley Men’s Garden Club, UNI Preserve Alliance League, the Herb Club, Hawkeye Community College, Iowa State Extension, Harmony House Horticulture Program, and Green Scene.
This is a year for laying the groundwork for the realization of the dream.
• A task force is formed to further develop the idea of a public green space in the Cedar Valley. This task force included Charles Lott, Kelly Conrad, Joy Swartz, Jolene Rosauer, Rosemary Beach, Jan Guthrie, Craig Gibleon, Wanda Sauerbrei, Leila George, and Maurine Crisp.
• An agreement is reached with Green Scene to use their non-profit status to begin to fundraise and create public awareness of the desire to create the Arboretum. In exchange, the Arboretum would provide space for Green Scene to keep plant material.
• A town hall meeting is held March 27, 1995, to gain public interest. Approximately 100 people attend.
• In April of the same year, a newsletter is sent out via Green Scene introducing the concept of an Arboretum.
• By May, a site selection team is actively considering six sites that have been offered.
• A 74-acre plot owned by Hawkeye Community College is selected. By the summer of 1995 Tom Lawler, an attorney from Parkersburg, has assisted in the signing of a 99-year lease with the College. The site is just to the east of the college campus on Orange Road
• In September, the Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanical Gardens at Hawkeye Community College receives its own non-profit organization status.
• October of 1995 the official ground-breaking ceremony takes place.

Arb 1995
This is the site as it looked in late 1995. Hawkeye is the group of buildings in the middle, and, using that as a reference, the Arboretum is the L-shaped red strip below Hawkeye and beside the cropland to the North. The 74 acres included much more than the red line, but this is what was developed at first.

This story is long and complex but will better show the growth of the Arboretum and the many people who have helped us to continue to grow along the way. Stay tuned to learn more about this history in upcoming newsletters!

Gifts for the people who already have everything

When it comes to the holiday season some people have been shopping for gifts since last December. Others may have started shopping in September, and some will be heading out the night before Christmas. No matter your shopping style it can be hard to find the perfect gift for someone who already has everything. Here are three things that you can get for the person who already has everything at the Arboretum!

#3 Products from local and U.S. Artisans

We love to partner with local artists and have a handmade gift for everyone in your budget. One of our most asked about gift shop items is our Window Frame Family Tree wall art. This piece is made by Captivating Crafts in Marion, Iowa and makes a great gift for a new family or loved one celebrating an anniversary. We also have handmade cards, soap, lip chap, framed photos, magnets, and candles! These are a great way to show love for the community and its artists.


#2 Memorial items

Many people think that memorials are meant for when a loved one passes away, however, memorials can be purchased for anything that you think is important to celebrate. One memorial we offer is a memorial brick which can be engraved and is placed in the walkway in front of our Education Center. We’ve had memorials purchased for all kinds of special occasions! The second most popular memorial is our tree and plant memorials. These memorials have a small area for a phrase and contain the genus, species, and variety of the plant or tree. These are a great option if someone you know loves a certain plant or tree. You can also purchase a table, bench, or chair which is placed around the Arboretum and has a plaque with a short phrase engraved.

#1 A Membership

Memberships are a great way to provide a loved one with a chance to be in nature and enjoy time with family or friends. Memberships last for the whole year and provide discounts to classes and events at the Arboretum. Not only does a membership provide free admission to the Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Gardens but can also provide free or reduced admission to over 300 arboretums and botanic gardens in the US thanks to a partnership with the American Horticultural Society. If you have a family that loves to travel and explore this is a perfect gift for them!

playhouse 1

As you finish your gift buying make sure to take time to relax and enjoy the holiday season, and if you’re someone who can’t wait for winter to be over, remember that spring is only three months away!