I get it, we all can’t wait for Summer. Despite craving some summer fun, I personally like to take time to enjoy spring. Spring (sometimes) offers my favorite temperatures, anywhere from low to mid 70s. Here in Massachusetts, we haven’t had too many of those days. There’s been a lot of rain, causing plants all around to thrive and bloom. You can’t get anymore “spring” than blooming plants. Although I have horrific springtime allergies, it doesn’t stop me from enjoying my favorite place…the outdoors. If I think back to a wonderful place I love to visit in Boston, especially when the weather is nice, it’s the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University.
The Arboretum encourages visitors to wander the grounds, and check out special areas within the 281 acreage plot. These areas include Azalea Border, The Bonsai & Penjing Collection, Bradley Rosaceous Collection, Bussey Brook Meadow, Conifer Collection, Cosmopolitan Meadow, Crabapple Collection, Explorers Garden, Hemlock Hill, Leventritt Shrub & Vine Garden, Lilac Collection, Maple Collection, Rhododendron Dell and Spontaneous Flora.
The Azalea Border
Azaleas are such a beautiful plant, considered a flowering shrub. They fall into the genus, Rhododendron. According to Azaleas.org, over 10,000 differing Azalea varieties have been classified. You might see these flowering shrubs in colors such as red, pink, purple, orange and yellow. There are even more colors, especially depending on if it’s a hybrid or not! This particular shrub blooms during spring, lasting for several weeks. This allows individuals to enjoy them for a good chunk of time. The Azalea Border consists of several beds adorned by the many Azalea varieties. The Azalea Border has been appreciated by visitors since its inception in 1946. It was then renovated in 2007. If you’d like to experience some serious blooms, I would highly suggest visiting the Azalea Border during spring. The above picture shows some pastel, orange Azalea’s I photographed at the Arnold Arboretum. This gives you an idea of the amazing flora you can experience at the Arboretum. For information on where the Azalea Border is located, check out the online map.
The Bonsai & Penjing Collection
A section of the Arboretum, which is a special place to me, is the Bonsai & Penjing Collection. This is a personal favorite because my father has numerous Bonsai plants. My house is filled with these spectacular trees. Plus, it’s crazy how old these trees can be. We own a few that are older than me! Some Bonsai plants can be several centuries old. It’s quite incredible if you really think bout how many historical events these trees have lived through. It makes them a piece of culture.
At the Arnold Arboretum there’s a beautiful, circular shade-house. Inside the shade-house, you’ll see the collection of 39 Bonsai trees from The Larz Anderson Collection. The collection at the Arboretum is rich in history. Larz Anderson, was the Ambassador to Japan, and imported his Bonsai collection into the United States in 1913. After his passing, his wife Isabel donated a major part of his collection, 30 trees, to the Arboretum. After Isabel passed, the remainder of the collection made it there.
The 6 largest trees range from 150-275 years old…insane. Somewhat recently, in 2015, 6 additional bonsai plants were donated adding to the current total of 39 plants. For more information on the types of Bonsai’s in the collection, read more here.
I simply find it so inspiring to view these natural works of art. The amount of patience and care that goes into these plants is mind boggling. I would love to grab coffee and a book, whilst being surrounded by these trees. That would be beyond meditational. If you’re going to the Arboretum, this is the section I’d recommend most. I will never go without visiting the Bonsai & Penjing Collection. To see it on a map, click here.
Leventritt Shrub & Vine Garden
Looking for some awesome photo ops? You definitely need to check out the Leventritt Shrub & Vine Garden. Dedicated in 2002 to M. Victor Leventritt, class of 1932, this section of the Arboretum features a shady, open-air pavilion. I find this to be the perfect place to take a second to yourself, in total quietness, to reflect and appreciate all that surrounds you. It’s essential to stop and take a minute to enjoy the Arboretum for all it is. There’s so much nature and beauty to absorb. This particular section has numerous shrubs and vines that saturate the grounds. The total size of this section is three acres. To be exact, the garden features 677 plants! How fantastic is that?
Per the Arboretum’s website, the Leventritt Shrub & Vine Garden is constructed of linear planting beds, terrace walls and steel trellis systems that allow vines to thrive, and in some cases flower. The trellis systems can be found inside the open-air pavilion. I could easily spend an entire day perusing the Leventritt Shrub & Vine Garden.
Although I’m super allergic to lilacs, that doesn’t stop me from loving the scent and appearance of lilacs. My favorite color is a creamy lavender, which describes light purple lilacs perfectly! Lilacs do come in a variety of colors. According to MarthaStewart.com, there are seven official lilac plant colors including white, violet, blue, lavender, pink, magenta and purple, with many shades of each. At the Arnold Arboretum’s Lilac Collection consists of…ready to be wowed…397 lilac plants even including hybrids! Can you believe? Viewing these countless lilac plants is MAGIC!! I could see this section being a great place to take engagement or prom pictures! The lilacs add such a sweet and classic element to any photo, with beautiful choices of colors. For example, the photo above was me in front of the gorgeous pink lilac blooms. Let alone the sweet and floral scent that hits your senses hard. Lilacs are such a celebrated flora of the Arnold Arboretum, that on May 12th, 2019 they will be having an event called “Lilac Sunday” with tours and events for visitors. If you are going any other day, you can even take a self-guided lilac tour which is not only interactive, but is a fun activity for all ages.
An awesome aspect of the arboretum is there aren’t just plants, there’s also so much wildlife. From bunnies to butterflies. One amazing creature I was able to capture on camera was a Hummingbird Moth. According to the U.S. Forest Service, adult hummingbird moths feed on nectar from a variety of flowers…making the Arboretum the most perfect home for these awesome insects! Keep an eye out for all sorts of wildlife when you visit the Arnold Arboretum.