East Tennessee State University

Arboretum Newsletter


Volume II, Issue 3
Summer 2003


Arboretum Hosts Area Elementary Students

The School Days Tours brought nine classes of third, fourth and fifth grade students to the ETSU Arboretum on March 13, 2003. The young visitors learned ways to measure the height and diameter of large trees from Arboretum outreach coordinator Susan Antkiewicz and volunteer Charlie Mattioli. Campus Horticulturalist Kathleen Moore demonstrated proper tree planting techniques in the beds of the new Veterans Memorial Dwarf Conifer Garden. Arboretum director Foster Levy introduced some of the giant trees on campus, and co-director Tim McDowell presented basic tree morphology to the many elementary school students. Each of the classes was given trees to plant on their school grounds, and each of the students received arboretum maps and walking tour brochures. We thank the Forestry Division of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture for their support of the School Days Tours through a grant to the ETSU Arboretum. Thanks also to the participating teachers at Fairmont Elementary School, Lakeridge Elementary, and the Ashley Academy.

Campus Horticulturalist Kathleen Moore guides students from
Fairmont Elementary School, Johnson City, in planting a tree in the new
Veterans Memorial Dwarf Conifer Garden in front of Brooks Gymnasium.


Kathy Glen and her fifth grade class plant the trees they received
during their School Days Tour of the ETSU Arboretum
along the woods at Fairmont Elementary School.

Two-Day Teacher Workshop a Big Success

A workshop introducing school teachers to advanced topics in plant biology through explorations of the tree collections of the ETSU Arboretum was conducted on July 18th and 19th. Fourteen teachers attended the workshop, which ran all day Friday and Saturday. The workshop focused on the close evolutionary relationships between tree species of the southeastern United States and their counterpart species in eastern China, Japan and Korea. The Arboretum now features several pairs of closely related American and Asian species, such as the Tulip Poplar and its Chinese sister species (Liriodenron tulipifera and L. chinense), the Ironwood and its Japanese cousin (Carpinus caroliniana and C. japonica), and closely related pairs from the dogwoods (Cornus), magnolias (Magnolia), sycamores (Platanus) and maples (Acer).

Participants used hands-on observations of campus trees to learn the characteristics of major groups of conifers, finding similarities and differences in leaves, cones, and bark which distinguish the families Pinaceae (pine, spruce, fir, larch), Cupressaceae (cypress, arborvitae) and Taxodiaceae (balcypress, dawn redwood). In another exercise, the workshop participants were presented with a problem: which of four individual buckeye (Aesculus) trees were distinct species, and which were interspecific hybrids (crosses) of those parent species. Working in three groups, the teachers compared diverse leaf, twig, bark and bud characteristics to select the parent species and hybrid offspring trees. The exercise utilized four Aesculus specimens (A. pavia, A. hippocastanum and two A. x carnea hybrid trees) planted in the ETSU Arboretum during the past two years.

The tree workshop was sponsored by a grant from the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust, which also supports the purchase of many Asian and American tree species pairs for planting at the ETSU Arboretum. Each participating teacher received a notebook with in-depth information on Asian-American disjunct plant groups, along with a hand lens and a copy of the classic book "Origin and cultivation of shade and ornamental trees" by Hui-Lin Li.

Dr. Frosty Levy introduces the inquiry on Buckeyes
to the Teachers Workshop outside of Brown Hall.

Hundreds Attend Arbor Day Celebration at ETSU Arboretum

An Arbor Day celebration hosted by the ETSU Arboretum on March 14th was held at Borchuck Plaza in front of the new Sherrod Library. The event included the presentation by state foresters Steve Roark and Tom Simpson of a sign designating the ETSU campus as an officially certified arboretum. Hundreds of people turned out for the big tree giveaway. Over 1200 tree saplings of four species (American Plum, Baldcypress, Persimmon, and Sawtooth Oak) were given away to the audience of university students, faculty, staff and local citizens. We look forward to seeing these distinctive trees growing in our community for years to come!

Dr. Tim McDowell gives tree saplings to students, staff and the public
at the ETSU Arboretum's Arbor Day celebration.
(Photo by Larry Smith)

State Forester Steve Roark presents the Arboretum Certification
sign at Arbor Day Celebration.
(Photo by Larry Smith)

Arboretum Awarded 2003 Urban Forestry Grant

The Urban Forestry program of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Forestry Division has awarded a 2003-4 Urban Forestry Grant of $19,750 to the ETSU Arboretum. The project, titled "Promoting Community Awareness of Urban Trees" involves the development of a web-accessible, illustrated database of the trees at the ETSU Arboretum.

The database will provide information for each tree on the main campus, giving its location, size, estimated age, species, and (for newly planted trees) the nursery source and time of planting. Digital images will show the tree and details of its leaf, bark, flowers and fruits. The data-base will be designed to be used by the general public as a source of information on trees for urban use. It will also provide an up-to-date inventory of campus plantings for use by the campus horticulturalist, to facilitate maintenance and improvement of the Arboretum’s tree collections.

The electronic inventory will be developed as part of a Service Learning credit course to be offered by the Department of Biological Sciences in the spring 2004. Drs. Levy and McDowell and Ms. Fischman will serve as instructors.

The new grant also supports outreach activities, including publication of Spanish translations of Arboretum tour brochures and additional newsletters. It also facilitates a number of presentations on the Arboretum to area school, civic groups and garden clubs. The Urban Forestry grants program has been an indispensible supporter of the ETSU Arboretum over the past three years. We appreciate the opportunity offered by these grants to promote the value of trees in our urban landscape.

New Tree Planting in 2003

Thanks to grants from the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust and the Harris Fund for Washington County, we have purchased and planted over 75 new trees on campus this spring. Additional trees were received as free distributions through cooperative agreements with the U.S. National Arboretum and the J. C. Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University. Several new and rare varieties were given to the Arboretum by Brian Upchurch, a regional nurseryman who gave an excellent slide presentation for the Arboretum last autumn.

Tree planting began this spring at the Veterans Memorial Dwarf Conifer Garden, situated in front of Brooks Gym. We thank the Mountainview Garden Club and the Northeast Tennessee Persian Gulf War Veterans for their support of this new garden, which is still under development. This spring we also planted in the dwarf conifer garden forty-three dwarf holly specimens (Ilex species), many of which are quite ornamental and unusual. They are a gift to the ETSU Arboretum from the collections of the late Harold Elmore and the Holly Haven Nursery of Knoxville, Tennessee.

Our ongoing projects at the arboretum include the installation of identification signs for the new acquisitions (and repair of existing signs), and planting of new trees. Two large beds are now being prepared along State of Franklin Road for the "Trees for Tomorrow" theme planting. We look forward to a busy fall semester!

Tennessee Conservationist Magazine to Feature ETSU Arboretum

The September issue of the Tennessee Conservationist magazine will include a pictoral feature story on the ETSU Arboretum. The article, by Arboretum directors Tim McDowell and Foster Levy, is illustrated with many photos of the bright colors of autumn leaves of many tree species found on the ETSU campus. If you subscribe to the Tennessee Conservationist Magazine keep a look out for this colorful story!

Presentation on Animals in the Landscape Scheduled for September 18, 2003

The Southern Appalachian Plant Society is sponsoring a presentation by University of Tennessee Wildlife Specialist Dr. Craig Harper on September 18, 2003, 7:00 - 9:00 pm. Dr. Harper will present a slide lecture on "Deer, Moles, Voles and Other Critters in the Landscape" at the Northeast Tech Community College, in Blountville. The talk will be in the Auditorium Building on the NE Tech campus, on Highway 75, next to the Tri-Cities Airport. The talk is co-sponsored by the ETSU Arboretum, the Northeast Tennessee Nursery Association, the Mountain Empire Landscape Professionals Association, and the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service. There is a registration fee of $5.00 to be collected at the door.

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ETSU Arboretum
East Tennessee State University
Department of Biological Sciences
Box 70703
Johnson City TN 37614-1710