Selecting new plants for the arboretum

Concept plan for fall planting in the Ladd Arboretum

Even as we continue clearing invasives in the Ladd Arboretum, it’s time to order the plants that will go in this fall.  The stewards who have been working on the site are bringing to the task their collective knowledge of native plants, restoration work, and the site. Greg Williams is even contributing his skill as an architect. He developed this conceptual plan for the section of the arboretum that runs from the big three-stemmed cottonwood beyond the dock area to the area of deep shade beyond a big sycamore. (In this photo, Bridge Street and the entrance to the Ecology Center are on the upper left.) We are selecting plants—small trees, shrubs, wildflowers, grasses, and sedges—from a master list developed for this site by Heidi Natura of Living Habitats. Bird expert Judy Pollock will then review the selection to make sure the plants together will provide enough food and shelter for birds during both spring and fall migrations. We also are bearing in mind that future volunteers will need to identify these plants, so we are trying to avoid any that look too much like weeds they’re likely to encounter. It’s an iterative process that will also depend on the availability of plants from nearby native plant nurseries. For many of us, this is one of the greatest pleasures of this work of healing the land: imagining in detail what the site will look like in a year or two after the new plants are established.

— Wendy Pollock