Gallery: Seasons at the Arboreutm


By Paul Kammerdiner

Have you ever gone to a play? And as you watched; did you ever wonder what it took to put on the performance, how long it took, what was involved?

As you stroll through the Arboretum and soak in the peace and tranquility this space often provides, did you ever consider what goes into the production?

Just exactly what comprises a season at the Arboretum? Follow along through the photos below

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A Helping Hand: Boy Scout creates compost bin for Arboretum

Back in June Neel Shah of Troop 500 in Cedar Falls completed his Eagle Project to create a compost bin at the Arboretum. Neel was motivated to create a compost bin after he visited the Arboretum and was shown the pile of compost in the back. Neel was disappointed because it looked very unorganized and he was inspired to help build something to make the area look nicer, more organized, and something that was more environmentally friendly.

Neel found out about our need for a compost bin through an email sent to the local scouting district that was shared with troop leaders. Neel’s leader shared the information with him. After talking with Rob, the Executive Director of the Arboretum, Neel had to create a plan to build and needed to get it approved before he could start building. Believe it or not, Neel created sixteen different plans with different blueprints and budgets before he was given the go-ahead to start building!


Neel uses a post digger and the help of an adult to create holes for each of the posts.


Adult volunteers help to align the posts and make sure they are placed in the ground evenly.



Adult volunteers help to create support boards that the plywood will screw into to separate each compost section.


Neel with a few of his volunteers.


Adult volunteers and parents keep a watchful eye to make sure everything goes smoothly during the building process.

With the help of many volunteers, Neel was able to get the compost bin built within a day! Neel says the best part about this project was that after six months of hard work he was able to create a project that helps the environment. Neel also learned a variety of life skills such as how to keep things on a budget and on schedule. He also learned the importance of organization, communication, and leadership skills. Best of luck to Neel as he continues his journey to Eagle!

We’re so excited to have an organized compost bin at the Arboretum thanks to Neel! If you know of a scout looking to get involved you can always send a message to the Arboretum and we’d be happy to help area scouts reach their goals.

19th Annual Fall Harvest Festival to be a 2 day event

19th Annual (2)This year the Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Garden is excited to announce that we are experimenting with a two-day festival! The annual Fall Harvest Festival attracts thousands of local and out of county visitors to the Arboretum. This year’s theme, Grandma & Grandpa’s Garden, is a great time for families to get together and celebrate grandparents and all they do. A list of events will be available on our website at

We are still looking for market and food vendors! If you or your business would like to have a booth or sell food at the Fall Harvest Festival please fill out an application on our website or call the office (319-226-4966) and Beth can mail one to you.

We are always looking for businesses to help sponsor our Fall Harvest Festival. Last year we reached over 4,000 visitors with our one-day event. Interested in what this can do for your business? Send an email to and Beth can send information about sponsorship your way!

Bees & Brews a buzzing success!

On July 22nd Bees & Brews, a new fundraiser that took the place of previous events such as Moonlight and Roses and Monarchs and Margaritas was declared a buzzing success! With over 30 attendees and a variety of brews from local breweries such as Lark Brewing Company, Singlespeed Brewing Company, and Second State Brewing Company everyone had a great time trying new flavors and learning more about the bees.

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“I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence;

Two roads diverged in a wood and I-

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”


This is the last stanza of a well-known poem by Robert Frost and it has become a symbol to a lot of people about choosing the “other” option. I have found this doesn’t have to be daring or profound but sometimes just fun.

When you visit the Arboretum, you have an array of choices of what to do; none of them wrong! May I suggest something you may not have tried before?

Come out with your hiking shoes on, an old blanket, and a picnic lunch. Take the road less traveled and sit in the shade, listen to the birds sing and soak up the serenity of a wooded glade.

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Volunteer Highlight-Vikki Brauer

for volunteering!

At the Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, volunteers are a necessary part of our operation. Thanks to the volunteers who do weeding, watering, welcome center greeting and all kinds of other odd jobs we provide a welcoming atmosphere that shares the beauty of nature with those in our communities. We want to thank our volunteers for the work they do. This month’s volunteer is Vikki Brauer.

Vikki lives in Hudson and works as one of our Welcome Center Greeters. She is married and has three children and three step-children, all grown up, 5 grandkids, and 14 step-grandkids. Vikki used to work as a quality engineer and manager before she retired. Vikki started volunteering at the Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Gardens so that she would have something to do in retirement. She enjoys working in the Welcome Center because of the variety. Some days are quiet and peaceful while others are busy and hectic.

Next time you stop by the Arboretum say hello to Vikki!

Hobbits at the Arboretum

On Friday, June 16th Hobbits visited the Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Gardens. Hobbits, a popular character from the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien, are small mythical creatures who enjoy living life to the fullest. To celebrate, the children’s garden committee held a Hobbit Hole open house and had great success! We had over 150 people in attendance and were so excited to share the magic of the Shire in our little garden.

Hobbit Hole Complete.jpg

The completed Hobbit Hole in the Children’s Garden

Many visitors were able to see the final project but we thought it appropriate to show the progress that leads to such an event. The journey from paper to party began during our 2016 season. Last year the Arboretum purchased a Hobbit Hole playhouse kit and spent the season building, painting, and making the Hobbit Hole come to life. The finishing touches of landscaping were completed in early June. Read more below to learn how the Hobbit House came to be. Continue reading

On the Hunt for New Trees-Paul Kammerdiner

Each year at the Arboretum we try to plant new trees to enhance our great collection, but you may wonder how we decide what to add. There is a logical answer and there’s a fun answer. With that, I’ll explain the fun way first.

A couple of years ago our Executive Director and I took a research road trip to Madison, Wisconsin to visit Olbrich Gardens. It’s a good idea to see what other similar facilities look like and to get ideas for our garden. While checking out the trees I saw the Seven Son Flower Tree for the first time. It’s a beautiful ornamental with the added interest of unusual bark. Since then I’ve had this unique tree in the back of my mind not only for my yard but as a great addition to the Arboretum.

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