THE ARNOLD ARBORETUM, JAMAICA PLAIN, MASSACHUSETTES
The Arnold Arboretum has always been a pleasant place to visit. I enjoy New England, and the city of Boston is very rich historically for anyone interested in the American Revolution. During my visits in the 1970's and early 80's I also made a very good friend at the Arnold Arboretum in Al Fordham, who was the Head Propagator.
Here is a picture of Al with a Picea abies 'Reflexa' at the Arboretum. It is a very old specimen that was evidently staked to a height of about eight feet as a young plant.
Al has always been very active in the plant world. Here he is talking with Dr. Sidney Waxman (R) from the University of Connecticutt and Don Smith (L) who, with his wife Hazel, were the owners of Watnong Nursery in New Jersey.
Al grew a variety of conifer seedlings from various sources. In fact, he was one of the first to grow seedlings from witches'-brooms. Pinus strobus 'Merrimack' and 'Uncatena' were two of his witches'-broom seedlings that were introduced to the trade and are still superior to many of the newer cultivars.
The Arnold Arboretum has an excellent conifer collection for anyone interested in specimens of older cultivars. The main grounds has conifers that were planted in the late 1800's, some of which were from seed collected by Wilson in China and Japan.
The picture above shows a collection of spruces planted on the main grounds in the mid 1900's. From left to right, the three large blue spruces in the rear are Picea pungens 'Kosteri', 'Glauca', and 'Moerheimii'. In front of them from left to right are Picea pungens 'Royal Blue', Picea abies 'Conica', and Picea pungens 'Bakeri'.
A more recent collection of conifers was established at the Dana Greenhouse, when Al was at the Arboretum. Some of the collection has been renovated since my last visit. There were many attractive specimens being grown in the rock garden area as well as near the greenhouse, as shown in this picture.
From left to right are Pinus cembra 'Columnaris', Pinus nigra 'Hornibrookiana', Pinus rigida 'Sherman Eddy' (rear), Pinus strobus 'Merrimack', and either Pinus sylvestris 'Albynns' or 'Repens' in front of the Pinus nigra 'Arnold Sentinal'.
My intention here is not to spend time and space writing about the Arboretum and its history, especially since a visit to the Arboretum's web site can provide that kind of information. The arboretum's site may be found at this link: Arnold Arboretum Home Page.
I am going to discuss and show some of the conifers planted at the arboretum.
Pinus nigra 'Arnold Sentinal' is a fastigiate seedling selected a number of years ago at the Arboretum from a small batch of seedlings grown from v. pyramidata seed that had been collected in Turkey. It is fast growing with good color and does not take up much space in the landscape. This specimen is growing next to the Dana Greenhouse.
Pinus parviflora 'Al Fordham' is a seedling grown by Al Fordham and named in his honor after he retired. He had collected a few seeds from a plant of 'Glauca Nana' and this was the most interesting of the progeny. It is slow growing and develops into a small, open tree.
Picea pungens 'Pendens' is not in any of the books but is quite attractive. Here it is spreading over a rock wall at the Arboretum. It did put up a leader that had to be removed, but so does 'Glauca Procumbens'.
Picea abies 'Acrocona' foliage. 'Acorocona' develops into a broad tree of moderate height. It cannot grow like a normal spruce because cones keep forming on the tips of its branches and terminals, pruning them. The red cones in the spring are especially attractive. An old specimen of this cultivar is growing on the grounds in the old conifer collection at the arboretum. It is almost as broad as it is high.
Picea abies 'Pusch' is a dwarf form of 'Acrocona' that developed from a witches'-broom in Europe and is pictured in other areas of this site.
Picea abies 'Inversa', planted in 1882 as 'Pendula', is one of my favorite plants at the Arboretum. It grows part way up the hillside above the spruces shown at the top of this page. As can be seen in the photo, it grows straight up with strongly weeping branches. Some nurseries sell this cultivar and 'Reflexa' (shown above) under the catchall name of 'Pendula' (not a good name). Young plants grown from this specimen are offered by Coenosium Gardens as 'Inversa', and will eventually look like this old specimen, especially if staked while young.
Picea abies 'Remontii', planted about 1908, has been around a long time and this plant in the old conifer collection shows how large it eventually becomes. Although not a miniature, it is still much smaller than the species and definitely has a place in the larger landscape setting.
Picea pungens 'Hunnewelliana' has a real history. This is the original specimen but it has been mistakenly been given that name. There was a green tree growing on the grounds of the Arboretum that had come from the Hunnewell Estate and had the name 'Hunnewelliana'. It was nothing special and was cut down. This blue selection was growing nearby and was mistakenly propagated as 'Hunnewelliana' and put into circulation under that name a number of years later. It now has that name by default. I had a young plant of the green form and it grows rather rank here in the Northwest. The blue one is nice. Notice, however, that it is not dwarf. Of course, neither is 'R.H. Montgomery', nor 'Glauca Globosa', which are one and the same with different names. My plants of 'Hunnewelliana' come from the plant pictured here.
Pinus strobus 'Fastigiata' is shown here to demonstrate what happens when this cultivar becomes old. There are a number of these in the arboretum and they all are quite wide. Notice, however, that the limb structure is upswept. A normal Pinus strobus would have horizontal branches. This cultivar is fairly common and very attractive when young. I have an improved selection under development for release in about two years. It can be seen in the article on conifer origins.
Pinus sylvestris 'Nana' is in the area of the old conifer collection. Planted in 1957, it is definitely superior to Pinus mugo v. pumilio, which is sold as a dwarf pine by the hundreds of thousands in this country every year. This plant has bluish foliage and is very dense for a Scots pine. I offer a similar plant by the same name from Rochester Parks. I suspect it is the same cultivar as the one grown in Rochester and described by Slavin as being very common in America during the 1930's.
The tall plant in the center of this photo is Picea abies 'Elegantissima', a plant that is sulphur yellow throughout the year. This particular specimen is almost 100 years old so the color is not as intense as when it was younger.
This photo was taken on Long Island at an estate called The Creeks. The former owner, Alphonso Ossorio, is standing by a nice specimen of Picea abies 'Elegantissima'. I included this photo to show just how attractive this plant can be in the proper setting.
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Counter Started December 1, 2001