America's Greatest Garden: The Arnold Arboretum

by E. H. Wilson, M.A., V.M.H. With Frontispiece and Fifty Illustrations mostly by the Author. Boston: The Stratford Company. 1925. 8vo. viii + 122 pp. $3.00.
MR, WILSON’S book explains that the Arnold Arboretum, a beautiful park in the neighborhood of Boston, is primarily a great scientific station, owned by Harvard University, which ‘assembles and nurtures all that is beautiful, interesting, and hardy among woody plants from all parts of the world,’distributes them to kindred institutions and plant-lovers throughout the five continents,’ and to achieve these ends ‘garners information of every sort’ concerning the plants in question — trees and ligneous shrubs and vines. Far and wide, during the fifty years of its service, the Arboretum has sent out its collectors, chief among them Mr. Wilson himself. Sometimes they have gone where no botanist had preceded them, and from them and from many other sources the Arboretum has received by thousands plants new or rare which within its borders have been grown and studied and tested for their value from all points of view, and especially for their hardiness in such climates as that of eastern Massachusetts.
To-day there are growing, on the Arboretum’s two-hundred and fifty acres of meadowland, valley, and hill, between five and six thousand species and varieties of trees and shrubs, planted in scientific botanical sequence, yet so combined with the vegetation native to the place as to form a park where, in almost unrivaled degree, natural charm has been enhanced by artistic treatment. Mr. Wilson’s many photographs show the beauty of these acres and their amazingly splendid arrays of flowering trees and shrubs; and from it one may learn how vastly the plant-resources and the opportunities for knowledge of the nurseryman, the horticulturist, and the landscape-gardener have been enlarged by the existence of this great living museum and of such accessory collections as a library of almost 40,000 books and 8000 pamphlets, an herbarium with about 250,000 specimens, and some 10,000 mounted and catalogued photographs of trees in all parts of the world.Here I can merely say that the tree-garden itself with all its adjuncts, as created and administered by Professor Charles Sprague Sargent, since the beginning its Director, is freely open to the public, and note the general as well as scientific value of its many publications, which only such an institution could have fathered.
Thus the Arboretum offers invaluable inspiration and aid, not only in private gardening enterprises, but also in some of the most important public tasks of our day — such as the preservation and renewal of our forests, the creation of urban and rural parks and parkways, and the planning of ‘garden cities’ and country towns. As the finest tree-garden in the world and as a place unique of its kind, a place which is at once a valuable object-lesson in landscape beauty and a reservoir upon which everyone may draw for the elements of such beauty and for knowledge in regard to them, the Arnold Arboretum should be an object of pride to every American. And Mr. Wilson’s book will convince him that if he visits it himself, especially in the spring, he will find it a vision of delight.