Friday, April 1, 2016

Trails, trees and tranquility: the Arnold Arboretum has it all

Arnold Arboretum, Boston, Massachusetts
The Harvard-managed Arnold Arboretum is a park, forest and botanical garden all in one. This Boston landmark is large enough to get lost therein, to find a quiet place or to perform your work-out routine. Park roads, trails and narrow paths connect the points of interest, including the Hunnewell Visitor Center, special gardens and plant selections, research areas, meadows, ponds and hills. Arboretum rules allow climbing the hills, but forbid climbing the trees. The Arnold Arboretum map provides an overview of the arboretum landscape and its sites, which you may want to explore on your own by self-guided tours.

Paperbark maple
Paperbark maple (Acer griseum), native to Central China
According to the City of Boston website, today's Arboretum displays world renowned collections of maples, crabapples, lilacs and rhododendrons [1]. My TimeOut Boston Guide summarizes [2]:
The arboretum, one of the world's leading centres for plant study, was established in 1872. In a beautiful, 265-acre park setting, this living museum is administered by Harvard University. It provides the opportunity to see more than 15,000 specimens of trees and plants from around the world.

The Arnold Arboretum was the first arboretum in the United States [3,4]. It is named for James Arnold (1781-1868), a whaling merchant of New Bedford, Massachusetts, who transferred a portion of his estate to the President and Fellows of Harvard College to establish an arboretum [4]:
Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927) was appointed the Arboretum's first director in 1873 and spent the following 54 years shaping the policies and programs of the Arnold Arboretum. Since its inception, it has served as a model and benchmark for similar institutions, both in North America and elsewhere.

White oak
White oak (Quercus alba), native to Eastern North America

Getting to the Arnold Arboretum in south Boston

The Arnold Arboretum is located in the Jamaica Plain and Roslindale sections of Boston, Massachusetts. A good starting point for your first exploration of the park is the Hunnewell Building, a National Historic Landmark that houses the Arboretum's visitor center. Address: 125 Arborway, Boston, MA. The arboretum is open to the public every day of the year—from sunrise to sunset. There is no admission for the visitor center/museum.
If you plan to come via commuter rail, take the Orange Line south to its terminal Forest Hills MBTA station. Walk to the south-west side of the station past the bus stops and find the Washington Street Gate across Washington Street. This is the beginning of the Blackwell Footpath. This trail traverses Bussey Brook Meadow and ends at the South Street Gate, a central point within the Arboretum. From there, follow northbound trails to get to the Bradley Rosaceous Collection, the Leventritt Shrub & Vine Garden and the visitor center at the northern tip of the park. Follow southwest-bound trails to get to Peters Hill, a 240-feet drumlin, from where you can overlook the park and see the distant Boston's skyline.

Japanes maple
Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) in the Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection

References  and more to explore
[1] City of Boston: Arnold Arboretum, established in 1872 [].
[2] TimeOut Boston. Time Out Guides Ltd, London, United Kingdom, 2015; page 154.
[3] The Establishment of Arnold Arboretum [].
[4] The Arnold Arboretum: Our History [].

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