All About the Arnold Arboretum, by Finness

By Finness. Based on our December 3 talk with Julie Warsowe.

Aerial view of the Arnold Arboretum

The Arnold Arboretum has a very interesting backstory. It was founded in 1872 by a man named Charles Sprague Sargent, who was REEAALLY into plants. Sargent liked to travel the world to study different kinds of trees, flowers and bushes. He even brought tons of seeds back from their native lands just to see how they would react to being introduced to new soil and climates here in Boston. He wanted to create a large museum and research center but he didnt have the money to support his idea or the space to house the plants after they have sprouted to their full potential. So Sargent signed on a couple of guys, named James Arnold and Benjamin Bussey, to support his cause. James Arnold was to donate $100,000 of his own money. So he had the place named after him (It’s only right).  Benjamin Bussey donated 120 acres of land and got No Love on the name (What’s that about?). With that done, they needed a decent design for the landscape, with walkways and buildings and the strategic placement of the plants. So they enlisted the help of park designer Fredrick Law Olmsted, who was also the designer of the Emerald Necklace park system and a really sharp dresser.

Frederick Law Olmsted, Father of the Emerald Necklace Park System

$100,000 is not enough to keep up maintenance of the park and infrastructure for more than a year. So they sold the space to the city of Boston, and signed a 1,000 year lease that enabled Harvard to use the land for $1 per year (Sweet Deal). Thus the city cared of for the maintenance, and Harvard payed for the research and everything involved with the museum and Arboretum. Today the 265 acre Arboretum is divided into six regions, with about 13 zones per region. At almost 140 years old is as important to the environment today as it was at its birth.

Dont Believe me? Cross check my facts at arboretum.harvard.edu/about/our-history. Thank You!!!

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