How To Establish An Arboretum Or Botanical Garden

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ARNOLDIA,A continuation of theBULLETIN OF POPULAR INFORMATIONof the Arnold Arboretum, Harvard UniversityVOLUME 20DECEMBER 30, 1960NUHB RS 11-122HOW TO ESTABLISH AN ARBORETUM OR BOTANICAL GARDENare received from time to time by the principal arboreand botanicalof the country for information concerning howto start an arboretum. Such inquiries clearly indicate that the arboretum idea isdefinitely being considered in widely separated parts of the country.Professor Charles Sprague Sargent, first director of the Arnold Arboretum, longago realized the need for arboretums or maintained plant collections strategicallylocated in the various climatic zones of North America. Many new arboretumswere established during his lifetime. Such institutions are not competitive butcooperative, and today there is a great need for more of them.Botanical gardens on the other hand, are much older in this country and abroad.It is obvious that there is an ever growing desire on the part of the public to havenamed collections of plants, both native and exotic, for observation as well as forstudy and enjoyment in places where they can best be seen and appreciated.An arboretum should be carefully planned, well financed, and competentlyadministered. This article is devoted to some of the ways and means of establishing and maintaining a satisfactory arboretum or botanical garden, many of thesuggestions here offered resulting from observing the successful development ofvarious institutions in widely separated parts of the country.requestsNUMEROUStumsgardensDefinition:-An arboretumconsidered in the followingamplegrowing and effective display of allthe different kinds of worthy ornamental trees, shrubs, vines and other plantswhich can be grown in a given area, their maintenance, proper labeling, andstudy. It does not necessarily have to include all the plants that can be grownin a region, nor does it necessarily have to include formal beds or borders ofannuals and perennials.An arboretum differs from a botanical garden in that the emphasis is placed ondiscussion,isanareaorbotanicalgarden,set aside for the69as

woody plants in the arboretum, whereas in the botanical gardenemphasisplaced on the growing of any particular kind of plant, but allaregrown. Large rock gardens and expensively operated rose gardens aretypesfrequently found in an arboretum or botanical garden but these are not essentialthe growing ofis notparts of either.Both differ froma serious effort has been made toofkindsofextensive collectionlabeled plants not only for themanyplantforcritical examination and scientific study. Manypurpose of display but alsoparks are planted without the labeling of any plants and with the use of only asmall number of locally available plant species. Some parks, it is true, contain acertain number of labeled plants, as for example, the Boston Public Garden;Roger Williams Park in Providence, Rhode Island; Fairmont Park in Philadelphia ; and others throughout the country, but no consistent effort is cr.ade in mostof them to label and keep labeled all the different kinds of plants grown. Botha park and an arboretum or botanical garden can be used for recreational purposes ; but the arboretum or botanical garden go beyond the park in that theybecome highly educational to many of their visitors, demonstrating by means oflabeled specimens what good species are available for planting in a given area orcan be grown indoors.The purpose of any arboretum, be it large or small, is to grow (and to keeplabeled) the best of the ornamental woody plants which will thrive in a givenlocality. Many other objectives may be considered, such as the actual introduction of new plants into cultivation, actual exploration of remote regions, thegrowing of all types of woody plants hardy in the area, scientific investigationsof various kinds including plant breeding and hybridization, the maintenance ofa large herbarium and library, and laboratories of various types-these may belegitimate functions of an arboretum, depending on the funds available, and thequalifications of the members of its staff.Botanical gardens may have even wider functions for their aims are wider, including as they do representatives of the whole plant kingdom from the tropicsto the Arctic, grown outside or under glass. However, small communities shouldnot be deterred by these weighty and often expensive objectives for they may beomitted altogether where funds for the maintenance of such gardens are unavailable. If an arboretum effectively demonstrates "the best" of the woody plantshardy in its area, this alone will make it a most valuable asset in the communityit serves. The botanical garden need not cover a large area. It can be effectiveon a few acres with a few display greenhouses and display a representative collection of plants from all over the world.Charles Sprague Sargent used to say that in order to start an arboretum it wasnecessary to have a thousand acres of land with at least a million dollars endowment : yet he started an arboretum with only 125 acres of land and 100,000endowment, and in the early years of the Arnold Arboretum he had only onea parkin that in the formeran>70

third of the income of that modest endowment for annual expenditure. There isstill the need for large arboretums placed in different regions representing different climatic conditions where all the woody plants hardy in an area may be grownand which are well endowed for scientific investigations. This is undoubtedly whatProfessor Sargent had in mind, for the Arnold Arboretum was, and is, that kindof an institution. But times are changing. With the extensive garden club movement and increased tendency away from urban dwelling, more and more peopleare becoming interested in the growing of plants.A new conception of an arboretum is coming into being. This is very well expressed in the plantings of the Arthur Hoyt Scott Horticultural Foundation atSwarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. It is adaptable to communitiessmaller than Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, St. Louis or Seattle. Itis feasible where funds are lacking to finance expensive scientific investigations,but where there is a definite need to grow and demonstrate to the public "thebest" plants hardy in a particular area. It is readily seen that this idea is a flexible one for the actual size of the arboretum or botanical garden may vary considerably. The idea is based on the theory that the same old varieties of plantsmay be superseded by new and better varieties. There are new varieties of cars,of refrigerating devices, of clothes and women’s hats, and there are new varietiesof plants as well. In the display gardens the "old" varieties are grown side byside with the "new," both often being available to the plant-buying public. Butwith the best varieties only being displayed, interest and variety in private andmunicipal planting will be greatly stimulated. With this conception in mind, thecommittee responsible for planning an arboretum or botanical garden should beso constituted as to give the best advice possible for its usefulness and adaptationto the community.Functions ofanArboretumlishing display gardenbroached. Some of themore1)homeTo growownersonlyaBotanical Garden:-The purposes of estabcarefully considered before the plan is publiclyorshould beaimportant functions of suchagarden mightbe :"the best" plants hardy in the area in order thatacquainted with their names, their ornamental charac-few ofmay becometeristics and the proper methods of culture.2) To show a complete selection of all that is considered the best from an ornamental standpoint among the woody plants (if an arboretum, or among the perennials, annuals, bulbs as well, if a botanical garden) that it is possible to be grownin the area.3)theTo4)of introducingfrom which they may come.serve as a meanssourceTo disseminateknowledgeofnewplants71toplantstheinto the area,public.regardless ofThis would include in-

clude information on culture, pruning, fertilizing and possibly a continual studyunder local conditions of just what varieties are "the best" including cooperationwith schools, garden clubs and other orgamzations.’5)To test the hardiness of untried varieties.6)To providealaboratory for students of botany, horticulture andnaturestudy.7) To increase the productivity, economic importance and beauty of an area,by intelligent and interesting planting, and by introducing plants not grownthere before.8) To provide recreational stimulus to the public by means of walks, drivesand beautiful displays, flower shows, etc., and to stimulate the pleasure of learning to know new plants which might be adapted to planting on private property.Each of these functions should be studied individually with view to the best incommunity. One of the first decisions to be made is whether thepresent park system satisfies the needs and desires of the people or whether itsscope should be enlarged. Would the people be interested in a garden of woodyplants only, or should an expensive display greenhouse for showing material inthe winter be included? It is important to consider that an arboretum will alwaysbe less expensive to operate even if it includes a large variety of woody plants.On the other hand there are some communities where plant displays in large conservatories fill a real need in the winter. If this is the local situation and fundsare available, the construction of display greenhouses filled with exotics must beconsidered.If the community is small, the effective functions of the display garden will belargely display. If the community is large and funds are available, the functionsmay also include scientific investigations, especially if there is an institution ofhigher learning with which the arboretum may be connected. How far this maybe extended will depend upon the community, its nearness to other large institutions, the availability of funds, and on leaders in the municipality.terests of theMethods of Establishing an Arboretum or Botanical Garden:-The first arboretums and botanical gardens started as private gardens when individuals becameinterested in assembling collections of plants. John Bartram has the credit ofestablishing the first large collection of trees and shrubs in this country when heestablished his garden in 1728 at Kingsessing on the banks of the SchuylkillRiver near Philadelphia. Since that time, many private collections have been established at one time or another but many of them have passed out of existenceafter the death of the original owners. Today there are a few private arboretumsworthy of the name. Among them would be the one started by Mr. H. H.Hunnewell in Wellesley, Massachusetss, in 1852, and devoted mainly to coni-72.

fers; and that of Mr. Stanley Rowe of Cincinnati, Ohio, which now contains3000 different kinds of woody plants.A local community can have an arboretum as a result of cooperative effort bylocal organizations. The Berkshire Garden Center at Stockbridge, Massachusetts, is just such an example. Funds are raised by local committees of enthusiasts to produce and maintain the type of arboretum wanted by a majority of thecommunity-in this case showing some of the better ornamental plants that canbe used in planting home grounds in the area.The government operated arboretum is exemplified by the Dominion Arboretumadjacent to the Experimental Farm in Ottawa, Canada. This is 73years old andcontains about 3300 species and varieties of woody plants. It is owned andoperated by the Canadian government. Our own National Arboretum at Washington, D.C. has been developed by government funds. Even national government budgets are frequently the playthings of legislators, and the future of anarboretum under government jurisdiction, though safer than a private arboretum,may still suffer much from a fluctuating annual budget.An arboretum is sometimes part of the park department of the city. Such is thecase with Highland Park and Durand-Eastman Park in Rochester, New York.The 484 acres constituting Durand-Eastman Park were originally a gift to thecity, made by Dr. Henry S. Durand and George Eastman, but maintenanceoperations are carried out exclusively by the city Park Department, support beingfrom city taxes. The advantages are obvious, for the park personnel is usuallywell equipped to maintain a collection of trees and shrubs. However, disadvantages are often evident. In many a park department the annual budget is subjectto devious manipulations by politicians who may have no interest in park plantings and in all too many cities in this country the park department budget is thefirst to suffer reductions when city expenditures are cut.The best method of establishing an arboretum or botanical garden is to providea properly safeguarded restricted endozc rcent, the income from which may be usedonly for specified purposes. The endowment should be sufficiently large to provide a reasonably ample annual income, for only in this way can permanence beassured. It will be necessary for the Planning Committee to estimate the annualexpenses in advance. Many arboretums today are being operated wholly or inpart by income from endowments. The endowment is not sufficient in some instances to cover all expenses and additional funds are necessary from the taxbudget or from private sources in order to make it possible to attain the ends desired. When the income from an endowment must be augmented by annual popular subscriptions or by annual grants from the city park department, manydifficulties arise. This is, in general, a most unsatisfactory way of operating anarboretum, for projects started one year when funds may be ample may have tobe curtailed or even discontinued in another year. Success is most assured whenan ample endowment is possible.various73

Usually a board of directors is formed to oversee the administration of fundsprivately endowed institutions. Such is the case with the Morton Arboretumat Lisle, near Chicago, and with Longwood Gardens at Kennett Square, Pa.Frequently it has been found advisable to associate the arboretum (with its endowment) with an institution of higher learning. Such is the case with theArnold Arboretum (Harvard University), Arthur Hoyt Scott Foundation (SwarthinMorris Arboretum (University of Pennsylvania), each one of whichendowment. The Arboretum of the University of Washington (Seattle) is connected with the University with most of its maintenance funds comingfrom state appropriations. This source is supplemented by membership fees, andan attempt is now being made to secure a restricted endowment.The association with a university is ideal for it tends to add permanence to thearboretum ; sound and intelligent advice on arboretum problems are always available from university staff members, and the arboretum can serve as an ideal outof-doors laboratory to augment classroom instruction. It is also true that thefacilities offered bv an arboretum would be used more as a result of this association than might otherwise be the case.When budgetary items are reasonably fixed from year to year, the work of anarboretum can proceed unhindered by extraneous circumstances. The main objectin establishing an arboretum is to make it permanent, to provide for a permanently debendable source of income, and thus insure its usefulness to be continuously available to the greatest number of people. There is no better way to insurethis than to provide an ample endowment at the beginning.moreCollege),has itsownSelection of the Site:-Before theplan can be made, a site must be decidedandthetosizeoftheareabeupon,developed should be determined in relationto the sources and amount of available funds. The site could well be a local spotof beauty, of historical significance, or an existing part of a park if suitable. Itwill take intelligent discussion and sound advice to decide on the site, for thegeneral plan and the functions of the arboretum also must be considered simultaneously. Arrangements should be made for alternatives in case the amount ofmoney originally hoped for is not eventually forthcoming. A very importantfactor is accessibility.Who is to Plan:-Almost any enthusiastic temporary group may be responsible for initiating public interest in the new arboretum, but a planning committeeresponsible for preparing definite plans associated with a campaign for raisingfunds should be carefully selected. The planning committee could well includean experienced landscape architect; a representative from the park departmentwho would know about future park plans; a banker; a person well versed in thevalues of real estate; prominent nurserymen ; and representatives from prominentcivic organizations who would represent the desire of the people to have an arbo-74

A representative from an active arboretum,contemplated, might well be called in for consultation.movemorecommitteesslowly than small ones, but somehow all interestsLargeshould either be represented or heard prior to the time the actual site is decidedupon and the plan is completed.retum and the will to work forsimilar in sizeto theone.oneWays of Initiating Interest and Action:-It isan arboretum in any community lackingidea ofasimple matter to propose theExcept in strictly urbanone.owners are interested in planting their properties so as to makethem beautiful and enjoyable for as much of the year as possible. In strictly urbanareas the people always desire to get into the open for rest and relaxation. Consequently, people in general are receptive to the idea and do not begin to "hedge"until the time comes for asking for increased taxes or donations for endowmentareas, most homeorfor annual support.are well equipped to assist in a campaign for anis fortunately firmly imbedded in almostclubmovementgardenNaturebirdclubs,forestry associations, conservationistevery community.clubs,nature should be interested in thetheirandotherbyveryorganizationsgroupsidea and their members afford an excellent basis for enthusiastic support. Schools,parent-teachers organizations, Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs, women’s organizations,church groups, town park departments, all should be thoroughly canvassed andMany community organizationsarboretum. Thetheir support enlisted.Horticultural experts could give illustrated lectures to show the kinds of plantswhich might be grown. Local landscape architects could have a field day in discussing possibilities. Staff members from existing arboretums could come and showwhat has been done in other communities, and discuss frankly the possibilitiesof a local arboretum. Costs could be discussed by committees representing variousorganizations. When opinion becomes fairly crystallized, some group could offera sum to be used for the preparation of a definite plan. This was done in Seattlewith excellent results. It was felt by those in charge that a topographic map ofthe Seattle Arboretum site was necessary, showing the two-foot contour lines.Such a map was prepared by the State W.E.R.A. at a cost of 5,465.00. Thenthe Garden Club of Seattle raised 3,000.00 and under its auspices a plan wasdrawn by a prominent firm of landscape architects. By the time the plan drawing stage is reached, public opinion should be fairly well crystallized in the formof a planning committee or "Arboretum Committee" which would have theauthority to work with the individuals drawing the plan.It is always advisable to have a well conceived plan on paper, regardless ofwhat the local situation may be. The man or men eventually to be in charge ofan arboretum do not just begin to plant trees and shrubs. Roads must be constructed, paths provided for pedestrians, a certain amount of grading done, certain plants placed in situations where they will grow best, a propagating unit75

intelligently placed, water pipes laid where they will do the most good, drainageprovided for in certain instances-in short, a thousand and one things should bethought of before the actual planting is started. In some instances the soil of thearboretum site may be very poor, and arrangements must be made to grow covercrops on it for several years (this was done on the site of the National Arboretumin Washington), thus preparing the soil over a period of time before any trees orshrubs are planted. V ’ater, in the form of a running brook or pond, can be usedto excellent advantage if properly planned for, whereas without planning, sucha feature might easily become a liability. Trained horticulturists experienced inarboretum objectives and various professional landscape architects are familiarwith these phases of the project. Thus if carefully considered plans are preparedin advance, much money can be saved, and many disappointments avoided bydoing the right thing at the right time in the right manner.How to Plant:-The actual placing of the different groups of trees and shrubsshould be done according to a carefully conceived plan in which the individualneeds of the plants are harmonized with the requirement of good landscape design and in which the best interests of the public are also considered.Some of the arboretums have been laid out so that the plantings follow a definite botanical sequence of families and genera. This is not necessary or essentialin most arboretums. It is advisable to keep all the plants in a certain genustogether if possible, and to so place the important genera that they are easilyseen from roads and paths. All projected plantings should be critically consideredfrom the standpoint of landscape design.Azaleas and rhododendrons, if used, should be given a situation with acid soilwhere they have some protection from winter winds. Lilacs should be so placedthat people can easily walk among them and observe them closely as well as froma distance. A collection of hickory or walnut trees, for instance, might be placedin an out-of-the-way spot, where they can be seen from a distance. Colorful displays that have particular seasonal interest should be easily accessible and wherethey can be seen from many vantage points. Some plants hke wet soils, some dobetter in dry soils. Each group should be placed where it will grow best.Special attention should be given to displays of seasonal interest. Lilacs, forinstance, are of interest only in the spring and might well be grown near theviburnum collection, which is of interest chiefly in the fall. The oriental crabapples, on the other hand, have seasonal interest both spring and fall and hencemight be in a spot by themselves. Certain azaleas and the flowering dogwoodbloom at the same time and might be planted adjacent to one another. A bankof red roses that will bloom in late June might be planted near the collection ofmock oranges to give it additional color interest when its white flowers appear.Evergreentreesfrequently kept by themselves, but intelligent plantingplacing of a few deciduous trees in such a collection, especiallyarewould call for the76 -

those wh ch color vividly in the fall, to lend color and variety. And in or nearplantings of deciduous trees it is usually desirable to place a certain number ofselected evergreens.It may be advisable from a maintenance standpoint to grow many shrub groupstogether in long beds with grass walks between them. Planted in this mannerthe shrubs are easily observed closely. A large number can be studied with comparatively little effort, and direct comparisons made. Roses, and representativesof such genera as Weigela, Spiraea, Deutzia, Philadelphus, Chaenomeles, and severalother genera come in this group that can be so treated. Such a collection, thoughof little landscape interest, has a great deal of interest to the public at all timesof year. The"shrub collection" at the Arnold Arboretum contains 800 differentkinds of shrubs in parallel beds. It might well be one of the features in anyarboretum, placed easily accessible to the main entrance, where people with little time can spend it to best advantage. It is also a most economical method ofgrowing such a large number of shrubs, for machine cultivation can be easilypracticed.What to Plant:-What constitutes "the best" and who is competent to judgewhich are "the best" is always a debatablc question. There are in existenceseveral large collections of woody plants in this country and attempts are continually bemg made to make reliable lists of "the best" ornamentals in eachgroup (genus or species). Such available lists could be utilized at the start. Letme explain more fully how this might be done, using the collections at theArnold Arboretum as an example.At the present time there are approximately 6000 different species and horticultural varieties of woody plants being grown in the Arnold Arboretum. Certaingroups are larger than others. Thus in these collections there are 96 viburnums,107 mock oranges, 159 maples,270crab apples, and 574lilacs. Taking thelilacs for closer scrutiny, there are approximately 400 varieties of Syringa vulgarisalone, of which 32 have white flowers ! Certainly all do not have outstandingornamental value. In fact, it is extremely difficult to tell some of the varietiesfrom others. It would be difficult to locate nursery sources for all, and certamlymany have been discarded by commercial growers as being unsatisfactory. Thislarge collection of lilacs has its place as a laboratory for scientific study (Mrs.Susan D. McKelvey did much of the work for her monograph on lilacs in thiscollection) but many of the varieties could be eliminated if scientific study werenot one of the functions of this arboretum. The collections would be much moreornamental if the number of varieties were reduced, for then massed plantingsof a single lilac variety could be made in space now occupied by twenty differentvarieties, for the ornamental effect of a massed planting is always greater, especially to the casual observer.In a small arboretum, a collection of 50 or even 25 varieties of lilacs might be77

those being selected for planting which are considered to bethe most ornamental and representative of the entire group. Just as many plantscould be used as in our large collection if space were available, but far fewervarieties. The same principle could be used in selecting "the best" in the othergroups of plants. The advice of local plantsmen will prove invaluable at the startwhen considering such points.satisfactory-onlyThe Number of Plants :-The number ofplants selected at the beginning willofinwhichthe arboretum is located, with itswiththethepartcountryvaryitsfacilities.A few examples will illusfinancialandresources,propagatingsize,trate this point. In making a preliminary report of proposed plantings for theCornell University Arboretum, now called "Cornell Plantations," there wereapproximately 2,000 species and varieties of woody plants listed as worthy oftrial at the beginning. The Arthur Hoyt Scott Foundation of Swarthmore Collegelisted approximately 2,800 species and varieties of oody plants that were beinggrown there in 1942. The 6,000 species and varieties now growing in the ArnoldArboretum might be reduced as much as one half or even more if only the mostornamental were to be selected. These figures are, of course, very general butthey give some idea of the number of plants worthy for first consideration. TheAmerican Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboretums has published threeinclusive studies, one on lilacs, one on crab apples, and a third on maples, showing the tremendous number of varieties being grown in this country and ofleringsuggestions for short lists of the best. Such lists should be consulted. The smallerthe arboretum, the fewer the number of specimens of any one variety whichshould be grown.The first places to investigate as possible sources for plant materials would bethe local nurseries. Nurseries at a distance may be able to supply many varietiesunavailable locally. It will, of course, be found that some species are unobtainable from commercial sources. Then it is necessary to provide for a propagatingunit and grow wanted varieties from cuttings or by grafting, where the propagating material is supplied by other arboretums, private individuals, or in some instances where seed is collected in native habitats primarily for this purpose. Thesmaller the plants when purchased, the lower the initial expenditure. The largerthe plants at the start, the more quickly an initial display can be made for thepublic to enjoy. The factors here involved are obviously important ones andshould be carefully weighed by the local planning committee.Space Required :-This, too, varies with the arboretum, itsfor maintenance, and its functions in the community. Shouldfundsavailablesize,much space be given over to massed plantings of single varieties? Massed plantings of azaleas, lilacs and crab apples are most ornamental and can be extremelyeffective, whereas massed plantings of maple trees, for instance, take up muchThe Amount of78

space and have little ornamental effect. The enforcing of a rigid rule thatthan two or three plants of any one variety can be planted might betodefeat the purposes of an arboretum in the eyes of the public. Theenoughmoreno moreArnold Arboretum proper covers an area of 265 acres, yet there is little room foradditional planting, even though nearly half the present area is woodland. Thiswooded area is considered absolutely essential in setting off the man-made plantings to good advantage, and to serve as an added source of beauty and interestto visitors. Viburnums alone take 30,000 square feet (190 plants), elms take upabout 5 acres (170trees), while the lindens are given 3 acres for 58 trees.Three and a half acres constitute what is known as the shrub collection-longbeds of miscellaneous shrubs with grass walks between, in which about 800 different species and varieties are grown. Almost a third of this is taken by the grasswalks. Such a shrub collection affords an e

70 the growing of woody plants in the arboretum, whereas in the botanical garden emphasis is not placed on the growing of any particular kind of plant, but all types are grown.Large rock gardens and expensively operated rose gardens are frequently found in an arboretum or botanical garden but these are not essential parts of either. Both differ from a park in that in the former

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